Tag Archives: body of Christ

Symbiotic Relationships In Church

Years ago my uncle had a small fishbowl with a Beta fish and a plant growing on top. He said it was a symbiotic relationship where they both benefit from the environment. When I studied up on symbiotic relationships, I found that there were four types. The first type is parasitism where one side benefits from the relationship (the parasite) while the other side is affected negatively. The second type is commensalism where one side benefits, but the other side is not harmed. The third type is amensalism where one side is not affected by the relationship, but the other side suffers because of the harmful, chemical compounds released by the first. The last type of symbiotic relationship is mutualism where both sides benefit from the relationship. All four of these exist in nature, but they also exist in our churches.

Ever since the Early Church began, it was designed to be a mutualism symbiotic relationship. The Greek word used was Koinonia which referred to community, fellowship and joint participation where people shared what they had with each other. Because people are involved in church, it got derailed and is often derailed to this day. Church does not exist to feed you believe it or not. When I hear the phrase, “I’m just not get fed there,” it’s usually coming from someone who approaches church as a parasitism symbiotic relationship. They want to be fed without contributing. When they feel they aren’t being fed, they either leave or create a amensalism relationship where they try to harm the pastor or other. As James 3:10 put it, these things ought not to be.

Ephesians 4 talks a lot about the Church and the relationships. It gives the responsibilities of the five fold ministries, but it also gives the parishioners their’s too. Verse 16 says, “He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (NLT). Jesus puts us together in Koinonian fellowship, but if we don’t do our part in the relationship, the body isn’t healthy or growing. Each of us have the responsibility in our own church to make the body healthy. Your church should be better because you’re in it with the gifts God has given you. If you’re not contributing to your local body with a mutualism approach, you fall into one of the other types of symbiotic relationships that is not beneficial to the Church and are not doing what God requires of you. If you find you’re in one of the other types, reach out to your pastor this week to find out where they think you can be most beneficial to that body of believers.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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Complimentary Christianity

One of the things I love is sports because they teach you so much about life and they require intellect, discipline and teamwork. I used to love playing them, now I love watching them. One of the things you will hear a coach tell their team is that they want them to play complimentary ball. When I was younger, I didn’t really know what that meant. I grew to understand that coaches understand different players are gifted differently and have different levels of skill. Their desire is that each person would put down their ego and play to each other’s strengths for the betterment of the team. Teams that figure out how to play complimentary are hard to beat because they’re versatile and run as one.

When I was in my early 20’s, I had the unique opportunity to intern at a church that had over 20 denominations and 50 nationalities all under one pastor. It was incredible to see the Body of Christ united by their commonality instead of being divided by their differences. I got to experience the Church function the way it was intended to. Each person and group of people didn’t fight others trying to say their way was the on,y way or the “right” way. Instead, they worshipped side by side in a variety of services throughout the month. This church still exists and is thriving because the people who attend understand we’re co-laborers and not competitors.

Paul addressed this in Ephesians 4:4-7. He wrote, “You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift” (MSG). We are all different and have been gifted differently, but we all have one purpose. It’s time we quit trying to do everything on our own and being upset because we’re not gifted the same way as others. Your gifts are meant to be used in a complimentary fashion with others in order to advance the Kingdom. We are all different and have different ways of achieving the Great Commission, but we’re also one body and are called to work together under one Lord.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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Working In Harmony

I grew up as the middle child of three boys. Like most siblings we fought over insignificant things and argued over just about anything. We often tried to get each other in trouble by tattling. Many times we would instigate arguments between the other two just to watch them fight. Like most siblings, we were competitive and were always trying to outdo each other. We had the same parents, but we had three very distinct personalities. As we matured, the fighting and arguing stopped. We learned to get along and how to help each other out. Even though we sometimes have disagreements, we don’t allow those to be reasons to separate us. We recognize those are personal choices and don’t try to force each other to live by each other’s personal rules.

Romans 14 has a lot to say about similar things. We as individuals and corporate bodies of churches often fight with each other over things like siblings. We find reasons to argue with each other even though we serve the same God. Instead of working together, the way a body should, we find problems with each other’s choices and doctrines that don’t line up with our own. Paul says those are signs of immaturity. Why are we fighting with each other trying to prove who’s right or better? We’re on the same side. When we look for differences, we’ll find them and be divided. We know that a house divided can’t stand, nor can it accomplish its great commission.

Paul encourages us in verse 19 by saying, “So then, make it your top priority to live a life of peace with harmony in your relationships, eagerly seeking to strengthen and encourage one another” (TPT). The foot is not more right than a hand because it walks instead of grabs. An eye is not greater than an ear because it sees rather than hears. We have differences because there are strengths in our differences. Let’s quit firing our weapons at each other, look for each other’s strengths and work together so that all may know Him. We must live in peace and harmony with each other as believers. The best way to do that is to seek to help, strengthen and encourage each other in the work God has called each of us to.

Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash

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Your Role Matters

  
My son is into Daniel Tiger from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. Hearing the same songs again over and over can get frustrating at times, but it can also drive home simple messages. One of the songs says, “Everyone, everyone is big enough to do something.” When I tell my son he can’t do something, he will usually say, “But everyone is big enough to do something.” I agree with him and find a way that he can contribute because I want him to know that no matter what he does in life, he can contribute.

As Christians, we’re pretty hard on ourselves sometimes. We think of ourselves as less than we are and prevent ourselves from doing things. We tend to think of our failures as a person or Christian, and disqualify ourselves before we ever contribute anything. We think we have nothing significant to offer or we’re not a strong enough Christian. We can be pretty self limiting when it comes to doing things for God.

In I Corinthians 12:7, it says, “The Spirit’s presence is shown in some way in each person for the good of all” (GNT). That means that you have something to contribute to others. God has placed His spirit in you so that you can do what only He’s called you to do. If you excuse yourself from doing what that is, it’s not just you who misses out on the blessing, we all do. Just as each part of our body performs a different function to keep it working, each of us play a role in keeping the Body of Christ going.

You may not like your part. You may not like where you’re located, but don’t let that keep you from letting God show Himself through you. Verse 18 says, “But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it” (NLT). That means that God has you right where He wants you so you can benefit others there. Quit looking for a better place or a more glamorous role in the body. Be who God called you to be where He placed you. Let God work through you for the good of others. Don’t hold back. You are important to the rest of the body.

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Fit Perfectly Together (Video)

He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Ephesians 4:16 (NLT)

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Dismembered = Dysfunction

I was 20 when I moved out of my parents house. I didn’t just move out, I moved out of the country. I committed to a year of living in Egypt working in an English speaking church in Cairo. Looking back, it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. At the time, I struggled with homesickness, creating a whole new circle of friends, having my beliefs challenged and seeing church done in a way if had never seen it done before. Everything about that trip challenged me and pushed me to question just about everything in my life.

It was hard to deal with at the age of 20. I had grown up in one church under one pastor. I knew one way to do things. I knew one way to be a Christian. All of a sudden my world was split wide open. The church had over 10 denominations in it and had representation from over 20 countries. They used to say the church there was a microcosm of Heaven. We had to function and act as a body in order to survive. We couldn’t separate ourselves by body parts like we do here in the states. Here we go to First Fellowship of the Foot, Hands International, Eye of the Savior, the United Ears Church or Nose Community Church.

Somehow in our separation we have become what I Corinthians 12 talks about. In verse 21, Paul writes, “The eye can never say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’ The head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you.'” Yet we look at denominations different than our own as not being Christian or not being Christian enough. I was once told by someone of another denomination, “Many are called (Christians), but only few are chosen.” He implied that every other denomination besides his was only Christian in name.

We can’t act that way. As verse 13 puts it, “We have ALL been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same spirit.” I’m not against different denominations or non-denominations. I’m against us fighting against each other and trying to build our churches with each other’s members. We focus so much on how to attract someone who is a Christian and so little on how to reach out to the lost. It’s time we cast our nets on the other side and started working together instead of against each other. Sure we have differences, but our core belief in Jesus is the same.

I think there will be some surprises when we get to Heaven and see who is there. It won’t just be your denomination. Each denomination serves a different purpose just like each member of your body serves a different purpose. Verse 22 says, “Some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary.” Each of us play a vital role in reaching the lost. Each of us have a unique perspective on the Gospel. Don’t diminish other Christians who have a differing view than you. Instead, learn from each other and work together because we have a common goal: to know Him more fully and to share His love with others.

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Wake Up!

I use a white noise app to help me sleep, especially when I’m at a hotel. It makes the noise of a constant waterfall to bleed out all other noises around. With it, I don’t hear people in the hall or in the room next to me. I become oblivious to just about everything going on around me and I can sleep. It’s very handy to have.

In a spiritual sense, there is a lot of white noise all around us. It is designed to keep us from hearing God speak to us and to help us fall asleep. It is a tactic used by our enemy to keep us from doing what we’re supposed to do. We don’t hear or notice things going on in the spirit realm because we’ve been lulled to sleep.

I Thessalonians 5:6 says, “So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded.” Paul was telling us to be awake spiritually. Others have allowed the white noise of this world to put them to sleep spiritually. They aren’t paying attention to the signs of the times or to what is happening all around them because their eyes are closed. They wander through their spiritual life sleepwalking.

It’s time we wake up as the body of Christ. It’s time we quit sleeping and realize that it is still day and we must work while it is day. Jesus said, “The night is coming when no man can work.” We have a brief window to wake up and do real work for the Kingdom of God, yet most of us are sleeping because there is no urgency. We have no real desire to see others come to Christ or we’d be working like their lives depended on it.

When tragedy strikes, everyone has a sense of urgency and they rush to the scene to help others as quickly as possible. Adrenaline takes over and their bodies work through the pain and the weariness. That’s where we need to be right now. Our world is filled with orphans, widows, the poor, the needy and countless lost people. The harvest is ready, but there are only a few laborers working such a large field.

I pray that The Lord of the Harvest would send laborers to work. I pray that He wakes us up from our slumber and ignites a passion in each one of us to go out and share His love with the lost and the hurting. There are people all around each one of us each day who need us to be the hands, feet and voice of Jesus, but our eyes are closed to it. We are asleep and are taking it easy.

I think of the Titanic when it was sinking. If you watched the movie, the lifeboats were only half full. They reserved them for a select few while others drowned. They could have put more in those boats, but they didn’t. Instead, they floated to safety while thousands died a few feet away. We are no better than them when we sit comfortably in our lifeboats of salvation and do nothing to save those who are drowning. We need to wake up, hear their cries and lift them into the boats.

We have the answer. We have the ability. We are asleep though and aren’t doing much about it. What is the white noise in your life that is keeping you from hearing the cries of the lost? What is it that has lulled you to sleep spiritually so that you don’t hear those around you? What do you need to do today to wake up? What can you do to bring more into the lifeboats? It’s time we woke up and started working like there is no tomorrow.

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