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Nazarene Bible College

01/15/2021https://www.nbc.edu/news/archived-news.php

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Following Jesus

An Active Part

When I decided to follow Christ as my Savior, my life changed completely. One of the things that changed was my concept of the church. Before accepting Christ, the church was a building that I visited every Sunday. It was the place where my religion gathered on Sundays. But after accepting Christ, I discovered the biblical meaning of the church. The church became very important in my life.

In these days of the pandemic, when going to a church building is not always possible or preferable, I imagine that many people are considering, in a new light, the concept of who the church is and how the church can remain active.

Who does God say the church is? The Bible teaches us that the church is a group of people who have heard Jesus calling and have accepted Him as their Savior. This group of people acknowledge Jesus as the Lord of their lives. These people follow Christ. They themselves have decided to obey Him and follow His teachings.

In Matthew chapter 4, we read about the first people who heard Jesus’ call to follow Him. Jesus called Simon Peter and Andrew to follow him. Jesus also called James and John, and the four followed him. Then Jesus called Nathaniel and Philip. Jesus continues to call people today! This group of people, who followed Jesus across every century, are called “the Church” (the called out ones). The Church is not a building or a cathedral. It is a group of people.

Let's examine one of the figures that God used to help us understand who we are. He used the figure of the "Body of Christ." We understand “the Body” because we all have one body. The body has many parts. It has two legs and two arms. It has 10 fingers. It has a head. We are His body. “Christ is the head of the Body, his body, of which he is the Savior” (Ephesians 5:23).

The church as the "Body of Christ" is a word picture that crosses all cultures and nationalities. To understand what the church is, we only have to look at ourselves. My husband and I have been part of the Body of Christ (the Church) in many countries. The Church is the same in every place, because the Church is not a religion. It is not ritual. It is not a building. It is not a cathedral. The Church is a group of people who have said “yes” to Jesus' call to believe and follow Him.

1 Corinthians 12:12 says, “The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the Body of Christ.” We are made up of many parts, and we are the Body of Christ.

As the body follows the head, we too, as the Body of Christ, have one purpose – to obey the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ. Our mission is to honor Jesus with our life and our actions. Obeying Him shows our love for Him. “He who loves me will obey my word” (John 14:23). Jesus also said, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings” (John 8:31). In Matthew 16:24, it clearly says what following Jesus entails: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross, and follow me.”

The Church is a one-of-a-kind, special institution with Jesus as the leader and guide. The Church is more than a social club or a humanitarian aid foundation. The Church is the Body of Christ. Other names for “the church” are “God’s people” and “the Family of God.”

All the parts of the body have their own functions. As the nose has the function of smelling, as eyes have the function of seeing, and as feet have the function of walking, the Body of Christ has different functions. One sings, another prays for the sick, one preaches, another helps, one is generous, another has a ministry to the youth, one visits those in prison, another pays the bills, one organizes, another works with children, one plays the guitar, another takes the offering, and still another evangelizes. The entire body participates and follows the Head as He touches the hurting world.

Is the Church’s role clear? It is not possible to be part of the Church without belonging to God's family. The Church was meant for community. The Body of Christ was not meant to exist alone, nor for itself.

In light of this image of the Church as the Body of Christ, we must ask ourselves, do we belong to the Body of Christ? Have we followed Christ? Are we obeying the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ?

And for those who have made the decision to follow Jesus, are you fulfilling your function within the body of Christ? Are you honoring Christ with your life? Are you honoring Him with your actions? Are you involved in the mission of the Church using your gifts and talents for God’s kingdom?

Whether we watch the Sunday service from our sofa or in a pew, we need to be an active, obedient part of the Body of Christ. Our roles might look different with the pandemic, but God will lead His Church to be active as we were intended to be.

(Ideas credited to Dr. Jorge Julca in his discipleship book, T.O.B.I.A.S.)

Rev. Susan McKeithen, Spanish Ministry pastor of Kansas City First Church of the Nazarene

Filed Under: Communicator Published: 10/05/2020

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