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Mar 16

Session 9 Recap: Anyabwile, “Contentment With Christ’s Body, the Church”

2014 | by Tim Ragsdale | Category: Clarus 14,Gospel

Editor’s Note: Tim Ragsdale is an Elder at Desert Springs Church in Albuquerque, NM. This post is a summary of Thabiti Anyabwile’s message from Sunday morning at Clarus, March 16, “Contentment With Christ’s Body, the Church,” from 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.

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Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile concluded our Clarus conference with a message from 1 Cor 12:12-27 on contentment with the local church.  He began with a question many of us face: How do we respond to people who say they love Jesus, but choose to pass on the local church?  He came to the realization that until they love the church, they will not see the centrality of the church.  It is a problem of affections; a problem of the heart. Contentment with the church comes from seeing God in the church.

The Church is God’s Work

God arranges the members of the body just as He pleases.  The local church is God’s composition.  It is no accident that you are a Christian and that you have a particular set of gifts.  Do you realize that heaven has touched you?  God has plucked you out of the fire, saved you, sanctified you, filled you with the Spirit and prepared you with his own hands to play a vital role in the local church.  The church is an exquisite thing, and we see the manifold and eternal wisdom of God by observing the church.

God’s Vision for the Church is Glorious

God’s vision for the church is that we be completely united with every member showing equal concern for every other member.  There should be unity in the body despite its diversity (vv 12-14). Like individual works in an author or artist’s larger body of work, we are individual works with great diversity; but we are all his workmanship. Paul is specific in his definition of unity: “That the members may have the same care for one another.” This is what it looks like to break down the barriers that separate us in the body.  We cannot allow our love to be limited some subset of the church.  Pastor Thabiti shared a quote from another writer: “If our fellowship and our love is confined to people like us, that may be little more than self-love spread over a slightly wider area.”

There Are Two Threats to That Vision And Our Contentment in the Local Church

1) Feeling inferior and insignificant, i.e., I don’t matter; I don’t have the gifts of this or that person; I have nothing to contribute.

2) Feeling superior and self-sufficient, i.e., I don’t need anyone else.

The response to both of these threats is threefold:

  • You’re wrong.  Sometimes the most gracious thing we need to hear is a gentle loving correction.
  • Every part is necessary and mutually dependent on other parts.  Counter to culture, in the text we see that the weaker parts are shown greater honor.
  •  If you say you don’t need the body, you’re saying God doesn’t know what he’s doing.  This is pride.

Six Applications

  1. Membership in the Church is a biblical idea and implicit requirement of the Christian life.
  2. Think biblically about leaving a church. Establish in your heart that you will not leave a church unless the gospel is falsified or not preached; or unless there is obvious sinful disorder in the leadership of the church.
  3. Take part in the rounding up of those displaced or discouraged members because every part matters.
  4. Cultivate a love and concern for those who are not like you.
  5. Actively live in a way that makes it clear that need others.
  6. Use your gifts for the good of the whole body.