Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Anatomy of a Church

The church is the body of Christ. Sounds theologically profound, but what does it really mean? The practical interpretation is really quite simple. By virtue of what we do with our hands and feet, eyes and mouth, heart and mind, by the power of the Spirit we are Christ active in the world, continuing to do the work of the Father. We are literally the physical presence of Christ in the world. When the body is working properly—valuing each member equally—amazing things can happen. First Presbyterian Church in Downey “exercised” the body of Christ last Saturday (May 7).

A small group went to the home of one of its members and used their hands and feet, hearts and minds, eyes and ears to assist a single woman in getting her home more livable—one member, overwhelmed by all that needed to be done, encouraged by several members helping get it started. This woman is an active member of the local body.

Another part of the body was exercising at the local Street Faire. We offered prayer, played games with children, gave out prizes and information and expressed interest in the community by our presence. We met a young woman preparing to be deployed to Afghanistan, prayed for her, and pledged to be ongoing support for her while in Afghanistan—one member, overwhelmed by duty, encouraged by several members promising support. This woman is not an active member of our local body. But the body of Christ does not have geographical or organizational boundaries.

This is, perhaps, one of the greatest tests of the authenticity of the body of Christ—the impartiality of the work we do in Christ’s name. Christ poured out his life for all—Jew and Greek, male and female, slave and free. No club card required.

The anatomy of a church comprises the parts of the body functioning in the world and continuing the work and witness of Christ. By this will the world know that we are followers of Christ, that we show love for one another.

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