I suppose I should address an objection that people might make concerning my last blog: I said that one reason Christian fellowship is necessary is that we need each other. We all have a role to play in the body of Christ, and that we have a responsibility to use our gifts to minister to each other.
Some might object, “But shouldn’t we be using our gifts to bless the world, not just the church?”
Yes we should. But remember that many of the gifts we are given are meant first and foremost for the church. Paul in Ephesians, for example says,
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers. (Ephesians 4:11).
Why did Christ do this?
To prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 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. (Ephesians 4:12-13)
Think about evangelists for a moment. If there is one gifting that is used to be outside of the church, it’s that one. But Paul specifically tells us that one of the main purposes of the evangelist is to prepare God’s people for works of service. As well as preaching the gospel, evangelists help encourage other believers to share their faith too. They show other believers how it is possible to make a difference in the lives of their unbelieving friends.
And as each of these people Paul lists use their gifts, we all grow up in unity in the faith and become mature.
“Okay, Bruce,” you may say, “but my gifting is not from that list.”
It doesn’t matter. Paul goes on to say,
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 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. (4:15-16)
Again, we see that everyone in the church, every supporting ligament, every part, needs to do its work that we may all build each other up and become mature.
That’s why Paul reminds us in Galatians 6:10,
As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
So yes, using our gifts to touch the world is vital. But we also need to use them within the church.
Remember what Jesus told his disciples:
Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)
Notice that the way that people will know we are Christ’s disciples is by the way we treat each other. And if we are loving and serving one another, people will see a difference in the followers of Christ, and that’s what will attract them to Him.
But if we are fighting amongst ourselves, living selfishly, and with an attitude of pride, they’ll rightfully ask, “So what’s the difference? Christians are just like us.”
How about you? Are you loving God’s people? Or are you avoiding them? Are you serving God’s people? Or are you withholding the gifts God has given you from them?