When Paul writes about God’s congregation to the congre-gation of Corinth in Greece, he refers to it as the body of Christ.
“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Cor. 12:27)
Paul wrote that all who have received the grace of repentance are children of God regardless if they are slaves or free, Jews or Greeks.
This reminder was necessary because people from a wide range of different cultures and nationalities had settled in Corinth.
In the unity of the Spirit
God’s congregation is a rejoicing congregation, yet also a battling one. The battle will end with the second coming of Christ.
Until then, the enemy of souls tries to introduce new ideas or broader thinking to Christianity, thereby seeking to break the brotherly, mutual love between the children of God that is effected by the Holy Spirit.
For this reason, in referring to the children of God in Corinth as members of the body of Christ, Paul wanted the recipients of his letter to remember what it means to have become owners of spiritual unity with Christ and His congregation.
“For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12:13)
Faith gives a desire to serve
Every child of God has his or her own place and task as a member of the body of Christ; in the home congregation or in the work of God’s kingdom more broadly.
It is said in the letter to the Corinthians: “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord.” (1 Cor. 12:4–5)
These gifts are both temporal and spiritual. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 Cor. 12:7)
Living faith gives a desire to serve. It spawns love toward all people and calls unbelievers to repentance. It exhorts those who have lost their faith to return to the Father’s house.
The mission command is meant for everyone
Jesus Himself teaches: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” (Mark 16:15)
The work of the kingdom of God in the congregation of the new covenant is based on this mission command. Every member of the body of Christ has been given this task. It is not possible to perform this task according to God’s will unless one takes care of his or own personal faith.
The Catechism states: “Christ’s work in this world continues in His Church as the work of the Holy Spirit. In Christ’s Church we have a living bond to Christ and other Christians. For this reason the Bible calls the Church the body of Christ.” (Catechism 1948, art. 44)
Serving builds up faith and the congregation
Every believer is equipped “for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” (Eph. 4:12)
Every task of service is valuable and necessary. I recall an elder I met some time ago. This elder said he prayed to the Heavenly Father that He would bless His kingdom and give servants of the Word strength to stand in grace and truth in this time that is eroding the word of God.
Even though this elder’s hands were no longer capable of doing physical work in the kingdom of God, they could still be folded in prayer.
Doing the work of Christianity protects us
The work of the kingdom of God always provides protection that reinforces the bond of love.
This is important, as the most treacherous method used by the enemy of souls is to privatize people’s life of faith and lessen interaction between the children of God.
Apostle Peter’s instruction is current in this time of selfishness and entertainment: “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (2 Pet. 1:5–7)
Decades ago a Finnish speaker said in his sermon: “Throughout all time the children of God, enlightened by the Spirit, have understood that those who will be saved are gathered, already on this earth in the time of grace, into the kingdom of grace established by Christ. Those who have been washed and cleansed with His precious atonement blood live here in the Father’s house.”
Text: Tapani Kirsilä
This text was originally published in Siionin Lähetyslehti, 9/2018.
Julkaistu englanninkielisessä kieliliitteessä tammikuussa 2019
Monet suunnitelmat ovat tänä poikkeuksellisena keväänä muuttuneet. Muun muassa perhejuhlien järjestelyjä on pitänyt miettiä uudelleen. Tämä on koskenut myös avioliittoon vihkimisiä. Nyt vihkimisiä on toimitettu niin, että koolla on ollut vain joitakin läheisiä, ja muu juhlaväki on seurannut tilaisuutta ehkä virtuaalisesti.