Part of our American culture and heritage is rugged individualism. We love stories of people who pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. We strive to be self-made, self-directed, and self-actualized. We expect to be masters of our destiny and accomplish all that we independently work hard for.
While this may be our American ideal of freedom and opportunity… its not quite what God has in mind for humankind.
First, we were made for God. Solely and utterly because God decided it was good that we exist. Second, we were made for community (to be in relationship with one another). Human health and vitality, human creativity and achievement, human perseverance and development are all made possible by living, working, and playing together. Third, we were called to be a specific community characterized by our faith in Christ and our commitment to his lordship. This community is called ‘the church’.
The church is called to be the body of Christ. This notion is even in our common language. We say that the church is called to be the ‘hands’ and ‘feet’ of Jesus in the world. In other words, working, giving, and serving wherever there is need… just like Jesus himself did.
No one person is supposed to work, give, and serve in EVERY needful way. Rather, each person is particularly equipped to work, give, and serve in a few unique ways. Just like literal ‘body’… the parts are all different but working as a whole under the leadership of the head. The church, as Christ’s body, is made up of unique people (parts) working, giving, serving as a whole (body) under the leadership of Christ (the head)
4 For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another. 6 We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7 ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8 the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.
In an orchestra playing a symphony… all types of very different instruments are required. You simply can’t have an orchestra composed exclusively of trombones, or violins, or flutes, or drums. You can’t even have an orchestra composed exclusively of a particular class of instrument: brass, string, wind, percussion, etc. to play a symphony, the orchestra needs all the pieces to perform together under the leadership of the conductor. So too, the church, needs all the people to serve together under the leadership of Christ.