Can you imagine walking everywhere standing on your hands? Or writing a book using your toes? Or typing out text messages with your forehead? The fact is that our body was designed by God with great beauty and precision, with each part of the body having an important and unique role. It’s exactly the same with the Body of Christ. Every believer has an important and unique role. And that means if you are a believer, you have a calling and a mission.
Not only so, but rightly understood, every believer has an indispensable role, since the Body can only function at its full capacity if every member of the Body is functioning properly.
Do you see yourself in this way – as someone called and graced by God – or do you consider yourself of no spiritual or practical value?
“After all,” you might think to yourself, “I’m just a businessman.”
Or, “I’m just a home-schooling mom.”
Or, “I’m just a young person in college. What can I do?”
The reality is that if you are in Jesus, you are called and you are gifted.
As Paul wrote in Romans, “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:3-8).
Did you catch what Paul was saying? It’s not just leaders who are gifted. Some people are gifted to serve. Others, to teach or to prophesy. Others, to encourage or give or show mercy.
As for those who are called to lead, Paul explained that their mission is to equip everyone else to do the work of ministry: “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12, NLT).
Put another way, if you are a follower of Jesus, you are called to the ministry – not in the vocational sense where you are paid to do a job but in the everyday sense. And in that sense, there is no “clergy” and “laity” distinction. All of us are called to be spiritual priests (see 1 Peter 2:5).
The question, then, is: What has God called you to do? What is your unique gifting? What role do you play in the health of the Body and the mission of the Church?
In New Testament times, when the believers were a persecuted minority, following Jesus was neither a casual nor a convenient thing. There was often a price to pay for your commitment. And, since the believers gathered in homes to meet together, it was harder to be a spiritual spectator.
The opposite is true in our churches in America and much of the west. It’s easy to be a Sunday morning spectator. It’s easy to be a habitual pew-sitter (or, chair-sitter). As Wolfgang Simson remarked in his, “Fifteen Theses for a New Reformation,” “The image of much of contemporary Christianity can be summarized, a bit euphemistically, as holy people coming regularly to a holy place at a holy day at a holy hour to participate in a holy ritual lead by a holy man dressed in holy clothes [for] a holy fee.”
The only caveat I would add is that in many of our services, the “holy man” is not dressed in “holy clothes.” Otherwise, this rings very true. We have the audience mentality more than the activist mentality – and you can be assured that audiences pose no threat to the status quo.
If you have ever watched an NFL game you know that each player on the field has a specific assignment on every play. One botched assignment could be the difference between victory and defeat.
It’s the same thing in the military, except that one botched assignment could be the difference between life and death.
It’s the same thing with our physical bodies, and one part of the body functioning wrongly could spell doom for the entire person.
Conversely, when every part of the body (or player on the team or member of the military) is functioning rightly, there is health and life and success for the whole.
What is your unique function and calling? What has God gifted you to do?
And remember: it is just as spiritual to be called to give generously as it is to be called to show mercy, and it is just as important to be called to serve as it is to prophesy.
In the classic movie Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell, a devout Christian called to the mission field in China, was explaining to his sister why he was first running in the Olympic Games. He said, “God made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.”
When do you feel God’s pleasure? Is it in secret prayer, interceding for the nation? Is it in mentoring the next generation? Is it in playing with your toddlers and pouring your life into them? Is it in preaching on a street corner?
If you are in Jesus, you are a part of the Body. And that means you have an important and unique gifting and calling. Give yourself to it, and not only will others be blessed. You will be blessed as well.