As a young adolescent I had visions of a muscular physique. My good friend shared similar aspirations and so we started pumping iron. He got a set of weights and the two of us worked out regularly in his garage.
After several weeks of dedicated effort I was disappointed that I was not seeing more results. I did notice that the veins on my forearms had become more pronounced, which I interpreted as progress. However, I wanted some bulk, some definition. My friend and I talked with our gym teacher about that. “When can we expect to see some serious muscles?” we wondered. He replied, “You’ll begin to see some changes after about three months.” “Okay, then! We’ll keep going!”
Wouldn’t you know it? Just before reaching that 90-day milestone I had a serious bicycle accident. I met the asphalt face-first. The asphalt won; weight-lifting lost. I had to lay low for a little while and after recovering I never did pick up those weights. I guess other things had gotten my attention in the interim.
For the Lord Jesus, “body building” is hugely important. No, not building our physiques; rather, building His Body. The New Testament repeatedly refers to the Church as the “body.” In fact, 1 Corinthians 12 gives quite a bit of attention to that metaphor, comparing members of a church to eyes, ears, hands, etc. Jesus Himself is the head. We are the Body of Christ.
In Ephesians 4:11-12 we read that God wants church leaders “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” There it is—body building. And what is the “physique” God wants to see? “… the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (verse 13)
If as a young man I was to develop the physique I dreamed of it would have required returning to the workout regime and sticking with it for the long haul. Merely dreaming about it would produce nothing but disappointment.
If as the Body of Christ we are to develop into the body God has envisioned, it will require intentional, consistent effort over time by all of us. I will call us to that commitment through a sermon series titled “Body Building” beginning July 20. Much like the Green Bay Packers of old hearing Vince Lombardi say, “Gentlemen, this is a football!” we need to revisit, and focus on what it means to be the church. We are parts of the same body, connected to each other as much as your hand is to your arm. As we live in that connection through intentional relationship, God’s Spirit and Word work to build us up to be like Jesus. Each one of us needs this and each of us has a role to fulfill.
As a companion tool to this sermon series, we will be reading the small book, I Am a Church Member by Thom Rainer. The elders read the book and agreed that it has great potential and practical value for Clinton Evangelical Free Church. It will spur each one of us on to do his or her part as we team up to fulfill our God-given mission more effectively. Now, do not go out and buy a book quite yet! We will order copies and make them available soon.
The Lord calls you and me to be a “Body builder.” Let’s get with His program!