Tag Archives: Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God – A Triolet

The Kingdom of God is within
The heart of each child of the King
By faith His reign must begin
The Kingdom of God is within

Through mercy each heart He will win
Like angels our love will take wing
The Kingdom of God is within
The heart of each child of the King

20 Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20-21 (NIV).

I’m sharing this today at dVerse Poets Pub for Open Link Night. Head over and check out some of the other great poetry offered there.

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The Bride of Christ Made New

In church on Sunday our pastor, Pr. Gary Englert, told a story that really touched me and got me thinking. I decided I wanted to post both my retelling of the story and the thoughts I had on it. After church I asked if he had come up with the story on his own or had borrowed it. He said he had first read it in Vital holiness: A theology of Christian experience : interpreting the historic Wesleyan message by Delbert R. Rose. I have not read this book, but it sounds like a good one. Pr. Gary said that Rose was able to tell this whole story in a single paragraph, but I like his somewhat embellished version better.

The story is of a great King who ruled over a large and wonderful kingdom. He was a good and fair King, loved, feared, and respected by his subjects throughout the kingdom. The King had a Son, who was also loved by the people. He was a good, courageous, and loyal Prince.

In one of the many cities of this kingdom was a woman who lived in the gutter. She had lived in the gutter for a very long time, and had not bathed or changed her clothes in what seemed like forever. Most people walked by her without a second glance.

One day, the Prince went traveling throughout the kingdom. He took a large entourage with him of servants, knights, and people of his court. They traveled to the city where the woman lived in the gutter. As they proceeded down the very street where the woman lay in the gutter, and came to the place where she was, the Prince ordered that the entourage stop. He got out of his carriage, approached the woman in the gutter, and kneeled before her. He spoke gently to her, “I love you and I want you to come with me and be my wife.” The woman was surprised by the Prince’s offer, but accepted.

The Prince then told the woman that he was sending her back to the palace with his servants and attendants, and that they would prepare her for their wedding day. Over the next few months, the kingdom, and especially the palace, was busy with the wedding preparations. The day of the wedding arrived, but the woman was not there. The Prince ordered that a search be made for her and that she be brought to the wedding banquet.

After much searching, the woman was finally found in her room. The servants and attendants were all around her with soaps, perfumes, and her beautiful wedding dress. But the woman sat upon the bed still dressed in the clothes she had been wearing when the Prince found her in the gutter, with the filth and smell of the gutter still upon her. When asked why she was still dressed that way, why she had not allowed the Prince’s attendants to clean her up and dress her in the finest white wedding dress, she replied, “He loved me this way when he found me, and he will love me this way when we are wed.”

In case you haven’t guessed, the King is our heavenly Father, the Prince is our Savior Jesus, and the woman in the gutter is you and me. In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul clearly states our position in the gutter before we knew Christ:

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. Ephesians 2:1-3 (NLT).

But even though we lived in sin, Jesus came to us, humbled Himself before us on the cross, and professed His great love. He called us to Himself, to be His beautiful bride. Although He loved us when we were in the gutter, He wants so much more for us. He wants to makes us a new creation clothed in the most beautiful white robes of salvation. We are saved when we first accept His invitation, and then begins the process by which He changes us into His likeness, washing away each speck of dirt and sin with His precious blood. He is preparing us for the wedding day when we will be joined forever with Him in His heavenly kingdom.

As I listened to Pr. Gary’s message and this story, a few questions came to mind. Have you accepted Jesus’ astounding offer of salvation? Do you realize how amazing it is that He would make such an offer? Can you imagine an earthly Prince seeking the hand of a woman living in the gutter?

If you have accepted the offer, have you allowed His attendants, His Holy Spirit, to make you a new and beautiful creation in preparation for your wedding as the bride of Christ? Or are you sitting on the bed in your new-found room, still wearing  your gutter clothes, insisting that if He loved you this way at first He will love you this way always? Have you allowed Him to change you for the better, or are you sure you are just fine the way you are? Are you allowing Him to wash you clean with His precious blood, or are you clinging to your sins?

So often we want to hold onto the gutter clothes we have become accustomed to for so long, not comprehending that the wedding clothes provided by the Prince of Peace are so much better. But if we want to enjoy the eternal wedding feast, we must allow Christ to clothe us in His righteousness. We must allow Him to change us. No one who is not properly dressed will be allowed to remain at the wedding banquet. In the parable of the great feast, Jesus said:

“But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

“For many are called, but few are chosen.” Matthew 22:11-14 (NLT).

So are you allowing Christ to prepare you for the feast of an eternal lifetime? Or are you clinging to who you were when He found you, hoping He will let you in anyway?

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Lessons from the Mustard Seed

I’m not a big fan of mustard and never have been. I know it’s an important ingredient in things like potato salad and egg salad, but I don’t like the strong taste of mustard on hamburgers, hot dogs, or sandwiches. But even though I don’t like prepared mustard, I know that there is much we can learn from the mustard seed.

I don’t think I’ve ever purchased a bottle of mustard seed. I have a lot of spices in my spice cupboard, but I don’t have ground or whole mustard seed. So when I’ve read passages in scripture where Jesus talks about the mustard seed, I’ve had to really think about it to completely understand the relevance of this particular seed as an illustration. I do know that the mustard seed is very small. I also read somewhere recently, I think on another blog, that the mustard seed is solid all the way through. It doesn’t have a hallow place in the middle.

Jesus uses the mustard seed to illustrate how small our faith can be and still be effective. Perhaps it is the solid nature of the seed of faith that makes it so strong though it is small.

   The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.”
   The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and thrown into the sea,’ and it would obey you! Luke 17:5-6.

He also used the mustard seed and how it grows into a large tree in spite of its small size to illustrate the Kingdom of God.

Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it? It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.” Mark 4:30-32.

As I thought about these two illustrations I was reminded of another verse where Jesus spoke about the Kingdom of God, and realized the two illustrations are related.

Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20-21.

If we have faith, even a tiny amount of faith the size of a mustard seed, then the Kingdom of God is in our hearts. The potential for becoming a huge tree is within each mustard seed. Just like the mustard seed, faith may start small, but if it is cultivated and watered it will grow to be quite large. Just as the branches of the mustard tree provide shade and a nesting place for birds, our faith when grown can provide encouragement and a place for others of the Kingdom of God to grow.

As we begin 2011, I am looking forward to seeing my own faith grow and hope that I can help others grow in their trust and faith in God as well. I hope that my faith and yours will be like the small but solid mustard seed, and that the potential for the Kingdom of God contained within us, within our faith, be a blessing to others so that the Kingdom of God might be found within them also.

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The Harvest

This morning a blogger friend of mine posted a poem about His Harvest based on Matthew 9:37-38, which says:

Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.  Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

Being from the midwest, she mentioned fields and combines in her post. This brought back memories of when I drove pea combine for a summer during college and led me to some observations and thoughts about the harvest.

Jesus, of course, is not talking about literally harvesting wheat, corn, or peas. He is talking about harvesting souls for the Kingdom of God. He is saying that there are many who are ready to accept Christ as their Savior, but those who already believe, the laborers, must go out and bring them into the Kingdom. As I thought about literal harvesting of crops, it occurred to me that not all souls that will be part of God’s harvest will be brought into the Kingdom in the same way or at the same time. As Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything.

Ecclesiastes 3: A Time for Everything

 1 There is a time for everything,
       and a season for every activity under heaven:
 2 a time to be born and a time to die,
       a time to plant and a time to uproot,
 3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
       a time to tear down and a time to build,
 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
       a time to mourn and a time to dance,
 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
       a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
 6 a time to search and a time to give up,
       a time to keep and a time to throw away,
 7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
       a time to be silent and a time to speak,
 8 a time to love and a time to hate,
       a time for war and a time for peace.

During the summer that I drove pea combine we usually worked 12 hours per day, 7 days per week. But one day, at the end of the day, the leadman on our fleet said we could have the next four days off because the peas were too green to pick. I’ve always thought that was kind of funny because aren’t peas supposed to be green? Anyway, this got me thinking about how important it is to harvest at the right time because if you harvest peas when they are too green they will not come off the vines in the combine barrel and your crop will be wasted. It was also important, when harvesting peas, to not drive the combine too fast. If you did, then it would get clogged full of too many vines and some of the peas would end up being wasted.

Similarly, if you try to get a person to accept Jesus when they are not ready they might be put off by your forwardness and turn away from God altogether, forever lost and a wasted soul. But if you wait for the right time, if you listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit regarding whether they are no longer “green,” then you will have a successful harvest. If you wait when the Spirit says wait, and go at the proper speed, you will enjoy a much greater harvest in the long run.

My friend, in her post, referenced the fall harvest. But not all harvest in the fall, even though we think of fall as harvest time. In my town, the Farmers’ Market opens in May and each fruit and vegetable crop is ready in its own season. The market vendors must be ready to display whatever produce is currently in season because that is what the market goers are looking for. I know I am always anxious for the first green beans, which are never available on the first weekend of the market. But if I am patient, eventually I am rewarded with beautiful green beans, plus I get to enjoy some of the other produce before the beans are available.

In the same way, we must be ready for whatever soul harvest is ripe at any given time. The person we think we want to lead to Christ may not be “in season” but another that we weren’t thinking of might be. We need to be open to share with whomever the Spirit shows us is ready to accept Christ and be patient regarding those on our hearts who maybe are not ready right now.

Next I started thinking about our pear trees. We used to have two different pear trees, one Bartlett and the other Bosc, but the Bartlett was cut down during our construction project last year. Now we only have the Bosc. We were willing to sacrifice the Bartlett to put up a storage shed because we never got a very good harvest from it. It usually had quite a few pears on it each year, but the time for picking them was very short. One day they would not be ready, the next day they would, and then before we had a chance to go pick them they were on the ground and had become food for the birds and bugs.

We were careful to preserve and protect the Bosc tree, however, because it has always provided us with a more stable crop. The time within which the pears can be picked and be ripe enough was much longer than for the Bartlett. We seldom found Bosc pears on the ground beneath the tree. However, the size of the crop on the Bosc varies from year to year. One year we had well over 100 pears off this one tree, but this year we had only 2. It occurs to me that the absence of the Bartlett tree for purposes of cross-pollination might be to blame for this smallest crop we have ever had.

So what do my pear trees tell us about the topic of His Harvest? I think that flexibility and following the Spirit is again the key. For some, the window of opportunity to share the love of God with them might be short, and for others that window might be longer. We also need to be prepared for the fact that we are not always going to have a huge harvest, but sometimes we will. And we are not always in charge of ensuring that a harvest is there, but we are responsible for opening our eyes and reaping the harvest that is put before us by God.

 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” John 4:34-38.

So are you ready for the harvest? Are you keeping your eye on the crops Jesus has put you in charge of so that you will be ready when the time is right?

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A Full and Abundant Life

We all want a full and abundant life, but we don’t all agree on what that means or how to achieve it.

For some, the full and abundant life that they seek is a life full of stuff — nice new car every year; a big house with extra rooms that are never use, maybe even an extra vacation house or two; fancy furniture in all those houses; new clothes and expensive jewelry; traveling all over the world; caviar, wine, and gourmet food to eat and drink every day; and “money to burn” as they say.

For others, a full and abundant life means being physically fit and active — eating only healthy foods and taking supplements to boost energy and strength; hiking in the woods; biking to and from work or mountain biking on the weekends; spending hours each week on the treadmill or at the gym; lifting weights and body building; being strong, athletic, and always on the go.

For yet others, the full and abundant life is one big party — drinking alcohol to excess; staying up all night and sleeping all day; doing drugs; gambling and raising hell; and having sex with whomever they want whenever they want.

But for the Christian, the full and abundant life is so much more, and yet so much less. Jesus promised the full and abundant life to His disciples and to us. I want to share several translations of what He said in John 10:10:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (NIV)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (NASB)

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (NLV)

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (NKJV)

A thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I came to give life—life in all its fullness. (NCV)

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so they can have life. I want them to have it in the fullest possible way. (NIRV)

A thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But I came so that my sheep will have life and so that they will have everything they need. (GWT)

I like the last one, the God’s Word Translation, because it indicates what is important: life and having what we need. The full and abundant life that Jesus promised to those who follow Him is not one filled with stuff and more stuff. It is not about having all that money can buy. It’s not about excessive physical fitness through our own efforts. It’s not about an endless drunken party.

The full and abundant Christian life is about having eternal life through Christ, having what we need (which is far different from what we want), having a relationship with God and other believers, and being content with the richness and fullness of living according to God’s Word. This is what Jesus wants for His sheep – fullness, abundance, “a rich and satisfying life.”

The thief, on the other hand, comes to destroy our full and abundant life. He lures people away from the safety and abundance of the sheep pen with the promise of more than what we need, of “money to burn,” and power beyond our wildest dreams. The thief promises feeling good and having endless fun. In the short term, what the thief promises seems good, but it is a con job of major spiritual proportions. Reliance on money and things is an illusion, because they can fail us in the blink of an eye. Riches cannot buy a full and abundant life. Reliance on our own fitness and strength is an illusion, because illness or accident can strike even the seemingly healthiest person in a flash. And the consequences of the endless party are inevitable and extremely painful.

The price for our full and abundant life has already been paid. The price was paid by the Good Shepherd when He laid down His life for us. The full and abundant life in Christ can be yours regardless of your current financial circumstances, your current health and fitness status, or the partying path you have been heading down.

[Jesus said,] “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:31-33.

Are you longing for a full and abundant life? Listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow. He will lead you in a life that is more rich and satisfying than anything this world has to offer.

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The Kingdom of God Within and Among Us

A friend’s comment on my post yesterday got me thinking about the Kingdom of God. Often when people think about the Kingdom of God they think of Heaven. If they have read and even partially understood the book of Revelation, they might think about the new Heaven and new Earth that are promised when Jesus returns. These are both great, forward-looking examples of the Kingdom of God, since He is, in fact, the King on His throne in those times and places. I do look forward to experiencing the Heavenly Kingdom of God, where “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” Revelation 21:4.

But I believe that we do not have to wait for that future time to experience the Kingdom of God.

Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within [or among] you.” Luke 17:20-21.

The Kingdom of God is where Jesus is King. If the Holy Spirit dwells and reigns in the heart of believers, then there we will find the Kingdom of God. If Jesus is the head of the Church, the body of believers on Earth, then there we will find the Kingdom of God.

It seems, however, that the current Kingdom of God is often like the Kingdom of Israel when it was divided into Judah and Israel. Sometimes it even feels like the inhabitants of the Kingdom of God are in exile, just as the Israelites were exiled to Babylon. During those times the Kingship of God over His chosen people did not cease to exist, but the full glory of His Kingdom did not shine because of the actions and attitudes of the King’s subjects (and often the actions of the human kings as well). Because the loyalty of His subjects was divided, or at times nonexistent, the Kingdom was in major disrepair.

Today, the Church, Jesus’ bride and Earthly Kingdom, is often divided. At times, the loyalty of believers is not 100% toward the Kingdom of God within them. I know this to be true, because I cannot claim that my loyalty to my King, my dear Savior Jesus, doesn’t sometimes falter. As a result, the full glory of the Kingdom does not always shine through.

But when I keep my focus on my King and rely on His Holy Spirit to uphold my loyalty and faith in Him alone, then the Kingdom of God is obvious to those around me.

For the past few nights I have been reading Psalms. I kept going back to Psalms 71:7, which says: “My life is an example to many, because you have been my strength and protection.” It wasn’t because I necessarily think that my life as a subject in the Kingdom of God is a good example to many, because too often it is not. Rather, I kept thinking that it should be. If God is my strength and my protection, then I should be able to bear any trial, resist any temptation, and truly be an example of what giving Jesus authority and kingship in my heart can do. Perhaps if we all, as Christians, as subjects in His Kingdom, kept our eye on how well we were relying on God’s strength and protection, and not worrying about what others were doing, then the Kingdom of God on Earth here and now would be more evident to those who are not yet part of His Kingdom.

As Jesus said, the Kingdom of God is within and among us, here and now. May the glory of God’s Kingdom today come just a bit closer to what it’s ultimate, fully restored Glory will be someday. I’m going to do my part by relying on God and giving Jesus His due Kingship. How about you?

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Rebuilding in the Face of Opposition

I recently wrote about my return from exile and mentioned having gone through a Bible study on the books of Ezra and Nehemiah. I decided it was time I reread those books, and today I started by reading through Ezra.

The book of Ezra is about the Israelites return to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon and the rebuilding of the temple of God. As I read through this book, I noticed of a couple of interesting things.

First, God used Cyrus, King of Persia, to facilitate His plan to bring the Israelites back to Jerusalem. Cyrus was not one of God’s people, but he knew enough about this God of the Israelites to want to please Him. Cyrus understood that God was in charge, as indicated by the first line of his decree regarding the Israelites: “The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah.” Ezra 1:2.

But how did Cyrus come to know of God in the first place? It was because the Israelites had lived in Babylon since their exile under King Nebuchadnezzar. The wisdom of some of the Israelites and the power of God as revealed to the kings of Persia was recorded in the book of Daniel. Because they held onto God during their exile, the Israelites made Him known to Cyrus. After Cyrus, and in part because of his decree, King Darius supported the rebuilding of the temple and the Israelites’ worship of God.

The second thing I noticed is that the rebuilding of the temple did not proceed without opposition. The enemies of the Israelites sent letters to the kings of Persia complaining about the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple, asking the king to forbid it. In the case of the letter to King Artaxerxes, the enemies were successful and rebuilding was halted for a time. Even when the Israelites had the permission of the king, there was opposition. “Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building.” Ezra 4:4. But in spite of this opposition, the Israelites continued in their work and the temple was eventually completed.

So what does this mean for us today? First, we must grasp what Paul wrote to the church at Corinth:

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.

When we believe in Christ, the building of God’s temple in us begins. In this process, God often uses non-believers to accomplish His purpose of drawing us to Himself. And sometimes they will come to know Him in the process.

Also, once the decree has been passed and the building begins, there will be opposition. The enemy will try to discourage us from growing in our faith. The enemy will try to make us afraid to move forward with God’s plan for our lives. But we must continue on in spite of such opposition.

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord.” 2 Timothy 1:7-8a.

Continue building the temple of God within yourself in furtherance of God’s kingdom. God has decreed that it be so, and just as the decrees of the kings of Persia could not be changed, so the decree of God is forever.

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The Heart and the Brain are Vital to Life

The Apostle Paul compared the Church to the body of Christ in several of his epistles. He expounded on this idea most in 1 Corinthians 12. I was thinking about this the other day when a friend and I were talking about all the different groups within our church and the different jobs they do. This is exactly what Paul says. Just as the different parts of the body serve unique functions, different members of a church serve unique purposes.

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13.

My friend used the analogy of a flock of birds that flies in unison to describe how we ought to be as a church. We all should be going in the same direction together, she said. But with a flock of birds, there is no real connection. Any one bird can leave the flock and fly a different way. I think that Paul’s analogy of the church being like a body is much more appropriate to understanding how a church must work.

In the church, some people function as the eyes to see and discern the direction the church must go. Others serve as the mouth, either preaching, teaching, or singing the gospel to the rest of the body. Still others serve as the hands, doing the visible work of the church, whether that be setting up for services or providing food baskets for the needy. And then there are those that serve as the stomach of the church — I may not know what they do for the church because like the digestive work of the stomach their work is hidden — but I know what they do is vital for the life of the church.

There are some body parts that one can live without, such as a hand, foot, or eye. And in the church there are certain functions that can be lacking but the body as a whole can still serve the Kingdom of God. But one very important part of the body, without which it will die, is the heart. The heart pumps blood to the other organs and extremities to provide them with vital oxygen and nutrients. In the church, all of the parts of the body of Christ must be fed by the life blood pumped through them by heart of Christ. Without Christ, the body — the church — is dead.

A body must also have brain function. The brain sends vital electrical signals throughout the body to tell it what to do. If the eye sees a danger approaching, it sends a signal to the brain that then transmits the orders to get out of the way. When the order comes, the hands and feet obey or risk serious injury. In the church, the Holy Spirit serves as the brain. Each part of the body of Christ must be in communication with the Holy Spirit.

A person whose body no longer communicates with the brain because of a severed spinal cord become a quadriplegic. Since the brain still communicates with the parts of the head and certain vital organs, that person can still serve the Kingdom of God with their eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. But the rest of the body can become an obstacle that must be overcome for effective ministry to occur. In the same way, if parts of the church are not in communication with, are not actively listening to, the Holy Spirit, they can become obstacles that the rest of the body must overcome. Serving the Kingdom of God is not impossible, just more difficult and challenging.

Having said all that, I have to ask myself “so what?” How does considering this comparison of the body of Christ to a physical body help me serve God better? The answer is that it makes me think long and hard about what part of the body I am supposed to be. When I say “yes’ to yet another church committment, am I serving the function God wants me to serve, or am I a hand trying to function as an eye? Am I worried about what the other members of the body are doing and wishing that was me or am I content to fulfill the function for which God made me.

But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 1 Corinthians 12:18-21.

It also makes me think about how important it is for ME to have the heart of Christ and to be in communication with the Holy Spirit. Because I keep these things in mind, I am aware of my role as an encourager in the church (don’t ask me what body part that corresponds to). And so I listen to the Holy Spirit and tell the hands “We need you. Your work is important.” I tell the eyes, “Thanks for keeping a lookout for us and discerning the direction we should go.” I say to the feet, “You’ve done a great job of bearing the burden of taking us in the direction the eyes have seen is appropriate.” All the parts are vital, seen or unseen. We are the body of Christ bringing knowledge of the Kingdom of God to a world that needs it.

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