Body of Christ
It’s a Sunday afternoon and I have picked up yet another book that will likely take me months to finish. I have this terrible habit of starting a book, reading about 1/4th of it, then setting it down when another comes along and peaks my interest. But let me tell you, miracles still happen. I do eventually finish what was once started *insert round of applause here.* This time, however, I did not set myself up for success. I chose a book that will take me weeks to mull over each chapter, The Case for Christ. As I begin reading it, I’m stopped in the middle of a page with a thought, “I have to share this.” My second thought is of who I’d like to share it with, my partner.
Before entering into my current relationship, I knew I wanted to be with someone who loves the Word of God. With them, I want to share openly and freely about what God has put on my heart for that day, what I’ve been reading in Scripture, what podcast episode I listened to, what testimony I heard, what questions I have, and so on. I also want them to do the same with me. I love to talk and I love to share, it’s part of my personality. Although this is who I am, I’ve learned that it’s a necessary part of the Christian walk as well. Sorry introverts!
We must share about the Kingdom of God with one another on a regular basis.
How do you receive encouragement? Is it from a friend, a pastor, a social media post, a sermon? If it’s godly encouragement, then it requires a person to spend time with God, meditate on His Word, and then share what they have heard or what has been revealed to them. This is a major function of the body of Christ, which is why proximity to other believers is crucial.
When in a relationship, if you are both believers, you have access to the body of Christ within each other. And if you marry, that accessibility is constant. I don’t think we realize how absolutely necessary that is. When you confess and believe in your heart that Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you’re not instantly catapulted into heaven. How cool would that be, though. We can’t all be Enoch (please excuse my cheesy Bible jokes). We have a role here on earth until He calls us home, aka the Great Commission, so we must endure in our faith. In his book Pray Big: Learn to Pray Like an Apostle, Alistair Begg notes, “you will not comprehend the love of God in Christ in isolation from ‘the saints.’ This is not something that happens to us on our own in our bedrooms, or on a silent retreat. The love of Christ is discovered corporately.” While we have our individual relationship with God, we cannot experience all that God desires for us in His design while separated from His people.
God's love is meant to fill us to the point of overflow, so that we may pour it out on those around us.
Hebrews says, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25 NIV). That day is the 2nd coming of Jesus, Judgment Day. Yeah I know, it’s kind of a scary to talk about. We don’t know exactly when that day will come, but Jesus has given clear instruction about it in Matthew 24. “‘Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come’” (Matthew 24:13-14 NIV). That means the end is marked by many hardened hearts and by the Gospel reaching all the nations, among other signs listed in that chapter. If you think about it, the church has an enormous responsibility. Our own hearts must not grow cold so that we may endure until the end, and so that we may share the Gospel. This must be motivated by the love of God. There’s no other way to do it because there’s no other way to combat wickedness.
The one who has the love of God in them stands firm to the end.
Love is a fruit of the Spirit. It is externally visible to the world. Jesus says, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35 NIV). When we have the love of God, its power not only sustains us but also reaches the masses when it is put on display. That is how the world identifies Jesus. And that is why I believe Paul states, “love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV). It can’t. Otherwise God wouldn’t be true to His Word. We cannot have the love of God in us and not show it, because from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45 ESV). His love must be spoken, it must be shown for its God-given purpose to prevail.
Encouraging each other is for preparation. It really is a daily requirement for the believer. It helps us to endure in this Christian life.
Let's pop back in on Hebrews for a moment. The author says to “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:12 NIV). We live in a fallen world and we are still capable of being deceived by the enemy. The enemy wants nothing more than to pull us from our purpose and to diminish our impact on salvations for the Kingdom of God. Jesus warns us, “‘Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth’” (Luke 21:34-35 NIV). We have to be ready, to defend our own faith and to help others walk into a life surrendered to God. Yet we are not alone, God specifically designed the body for support and Jesus is interceding for that body, His church.
Knowing that God is intentional and consistent in His design, I believe He did not create relationships merely to meet our earthly needs. Certainly we are to enjoy each other, bond, share corny jokes (mostly on my end), learn and grow together, and so forth. But beyond our enjoyment, there are His divine purposes. Let us not forsake that in the midst of one another’s company. Jesus literally said that we will do even greater things on this earth than He has done (John 14:12 NIV). What?! If that is true, then there’s more to this life than a house in the suburbs with a 2-car garage, white picket fence, and a Corgi. Nothing against Corgis, those dogs are adorable. I just think our Western Christianity needs to be shaken a bit.
Maybe that’s why I jumped from a lighthearted topic of reading to the end times. Trust me, I wasn’t trying to make that leap. Nonetheless I think the point is clear, WE NEED COMMUNITY and we need it for GOD’S PURPOSES. And because this blog is focused on Christian dating, let us not forget that if you’re in a relationship, you two are brother and sister in Christ, first and foremost. That identify doesn’t change in dating or in marriage. You are members of the body of Christ. You both have unique gifts to contribute to the body. You both have a calling to make disciples. So encourage each other, DAILY. Share what God is doing. Share what God has spoken to you while reading your Bible. This is what edifies and equips the church. Okay...ready, set, go!
Work Cited: Begg, Alistair. Pray Big: Learn to Pray Like an Apostle. The Good Book Company, 2019.