Hear the apostle Paul's challenge for us to a maturing body of Christ
as we serve the Lord together!
"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."
A few Saturdays ago I tried to canoe down the creek with a member of our church family. We both were seasoned paddlers who knew well how to carry ourselves in the rapids, still every time the vessel began to rock we flipped over and went for a swim. What was our problem? Our boat was too small! Too much of us was out of the water!
Paul describes a narrow minded, do it yourself Christian this way. He says if we try to go it alone we will get tossed back and forth by the waves. If we try to live as a Jesus follower without the support, accountability, and ministry of the church we will sink. We know this is true. The world will toss and turn us every which way and we will end up drowning.
As I was flipping out of my boat I could see a group of our teens who were on rafts. They did not have enough paddles for everyone, so they had tied their boats together and were making their way down the river taking turns paddling. I had chosen not to tie on because I was a bit prideful. I wanted to go my own way and have control over my own boat. I was afraid they would slow me down, that all seemed nice until I was upside down spitting cray fish out of my mouth. My partner and I ended up giving up and carrying our boat to dock. As we did so, frustrated and tired, we watched our happy friends float buy on their rafts. After some initial jockeying for control they had developed an effective system where some paddled and others laid back to look at the clouds.
Our Christian journey is similar. It may seem better, or easier to just go it alone. This way we don't have to "deal" with the needs, ideas, and contributions of others. We don't have to learn patience (because who needs patience when you can just paddle your own way) or team work. However, as scripture reminds us continually, we were not created to go it alone. Our boat is just too small. We will get tossed.
Christian maturity comes as we grow in faith together. Along the way we are humbled, instructed, affirmed, and corrected. Together we grow up into a mature faith and a mature church.
This summer our congregations have many opportunities to worship and serve together. As we each climb onto the rafts and contribute our gifts to our church communities we will grow and change. We are made even stronger, and we learn patience all the faster, as we tether our churches, Mt. Carmel, New Market, and Fairview all together. It is a bit rough at times moving as a unified body of Christ through the rapids of Frederick County. But together we offer a mature body of Christ to the world in ways far more stable and sustainable than we could ever do alone.
Enjoy the paddling and the floating!
See you on the rafts!
Pastor Jenny & Pastor Scott