An Exercising Church

 

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Awhile ago, I came across the above picture on a brother’s Facebook (I forgot who; please forgive me) He said this diagram depicts very well our contemporary church culture. This is indeed the experience of many Christians and it reminds me of Francis Chan’s words on his “We Are Church” website, “Often it’s all too easy to attend a church for years and years without ever being equipped to serve and live out the gospel. As consumers of church, we come in, get filled up by the worship and message, and then our only option is to come back week after week to get filled up again and again. However, if all we ever do is consume, how do we ourselves ever become fishers of men? (Matt. 4:19)” How true is that?

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9)

“And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:10)

It seems like we often forget our identity as priests. Perhaps the simplest thing we can do priest to minister Christ to one another is to simply speak Christ. What I mean is that, we can all share our enjoyment of God; we can all speak encouragement to one another; we can all pray out loud spontaneously in prayer meetings.

Romans 10:9 says, “believe in your heart and declare with your mouth”. Proclaiming with your mouth is powerful. Romans 10:17 then follows, “faith comes from hearing”. When we speak, those who hear with open ears also receive more faith. Proverbs 11:25 also says “And he who waters will himself be watered.” By watering others with the word of God, we also get nourished.

In his letters, Paul emphasizes again and again that we should all exercise our spiritual gifts that are given by God to build up the Church (Check out my old post, The Goal Of Spiritual Gifts.) Furthermore, in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul writes, to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit. Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 14 passage above, Paul emphasises each of you. No matter what our occupation, gender, nationality is, each of us has been given various spiritual gifts to instruct and encourage one another. Some may think that only the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers as listed in Ephesians 4 are responsible for building up the Church, yet this cannot be more absurd. Paul wrote that these roles function to equip the saints so that the saints can also function in the ministry. We are all saints, and whether prophet or not, pastor or not, we can all build up the body of Christ.

It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for works of ministry, to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, as we mature to the full measure of the stature of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13)

Above all, the church body, be it locally or universally, can never fully exercise their priesthood until they have first fully submitted to the Headship of Christ, followed by submitting to one another (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:22; 1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:12) “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor. ” (Romans 12:10 NASB)