A Culture of Shared Ownership
Text: 1 Corinthians 12:4-27; Ephesians 4:4-16 | Listen to Message
It’s YOUR Church
What draws you to a particular local church? What keeps you there? What would have to happen to cause you to leave?
While there are plenty of solid, biblical principles that address these questions, the answers of many modern Christians are surprisingly superficial:
The location is close and convenient to me. I like the worship (and by that, I mean the style and instrumentation of the music and the songs themselves). The preaching is practical and relevant without being too up in my business. There are plenty of programs to take advantage of. It’s the hip church for my demographic. I enjoy the vibe. I can volunteer if I want, but I don’t have to. It just feels “right” . . . for now.
But, caution: I’ll probably leave abruptly and without any warning if my conditions aren’t met or if I find something I think is a little better. If the church drops my favorite program or changes up the worship, if the pastor confronts my sin (aka, “gets all preachy”), if a few of my friends leave, or if something happens that I just don’t like, I’m outta here!
Missing from this brand of consumer Christianity is a true sense of ownership. We often don’t think of the church as a “we” at all. It’s not “us” and “ours.” It’s easier to remain at arm’s length and evaluate (read: judge, condemn, and distance ourselves from) “them” and the way “they” do things. And when we find someone or something we disagree with, it’s sayonara.
If this sounds off to you, there’s a good reason why: Jesus and the New Testament portray a very different sense of church community than this – beginning with the fact that it’s called “the body of Christ.”
1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 both describe “ownership” in the local church in terms of unity, diversity, and interdependence. Think about that.
Unity: There is only one God, one Gospel, one faith, one true Church (with a capital “C”), and one power to live the Christian life. This – not shared opinions, preferences, politics, personalities, situation in life, or even race or socioeconomic status – is the true basis of Christian unity. Our unity is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we have no authority to divide over anything less consequential than the very words of God.
Diversity: There are not only many members of the body of Christ, but many different kinds of members. We’re not all alike, and we’re not meant to be! God made us different, just as He made the eye and the ear different, because we all serve different functions. We each contribute something unique – and something vitally important – to the body. Becoming a Christian doesn’t homogenize your gifts, abilities, and personality; it redeems them.
Interdependence: The reality is we all need one another in the body of Christ. We suffer together and we rejoice together. It takes all of us working together to provide extraordinary care to our members. And it takes all of us working together to accomplish a mission and vision that’s greater than the sum of our parts.
Being this kind of church is hard because our lives are messy and broken. We’re opinionated and selfish. We’re busy and self-sufficient. We’re disgusted by some members of our body and envious of others.
But here’s our hope. We are the body of Christ. That means Jesus – the Son of God – identifies and unites with us in our brokenness. The grace of that ought to stun you. Jesus sees our sin and shame, and he doesn’t merely befriend us, he makes us one with him! That means you don’t have to figure this all out; you simply let God be God in you. You surrender your members to Him and trust Him to love and serve others through you. And He will!