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Without You, the Picture is Incomplete

I have never had the patience to sit down and work a puzzle. I’ve been told that you’re supposed to find the edge pieces first and connect them so that the border is complete, and then you can fill in the rest of the pieces from there. Great idea, but by the time I’ve got the border pieces connected, I’m ready to move on to something else. The few times (and I emphasize “few”) that I’ve tried putting a puzzle together, inevitably I get to the last pieces, and several are missing! Talk about frustrating. Now the picture is incomplete, unfinished, and deficient.


So it is in the Body of Christ. Every member of the Body of Christ is vital. Without each “piece,” the picture is incomplete. The Bible says we are a unit with each part of the unit having a role. Unfortunately, not every member sees himself or herself as really a part of Christ’s body. Or, some may see membership in the Body akin to membership in a club. They “pay” for services and benefits rather than contributing as a part of a family dynamic through relationships, service and spiritual growth. Still others may not feel like they “fit” in the Body of Christ.


In 1 Corinthians 12:13 we read that “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.” Oneness doesn’t come through personality, gifts, functions, roles, or responsibilities. Unity doesn’t come through our individuality but through our commonality--what we share in common. Your hand is not united because of each individual finger, but because of the palm that brings them together. Unity comes through one Spirit. We drink of that one Spirit. If I drink of the same source as you do, we both have that source inside of us. When we drink of the Spirit—when we receive the Spirit into our lives by surrendering to Jesus—we are united as one.


Several years ago I traveled to a remote village in the “bush,” hours away from Nampula, Mozambique. Dan Been, the missionary who hosted me, was driving a four-wheel truck, and we went from a paved road to a dirt road to a dirt path. He drove us as far as the truck could go, and then we left the truck and walked another mile or so to the village. We came to a clearing, and in front of this tiny clay-brick church building, we saw brothers and sisters in Christ, half-way around the world, worshiping the same Lord through the same Spirit. After they sang, the first thing we did was sit down and share communion. We were different races with different languages, different dress styles, different worship styles, but we drank of the same Spirit.


Likewise, each Christian has many differences--different gifts, different personalities, different strengths and weaknesses, different tastes, different opinions, but we all drink of the one Spirit! The nature of the Body of Christ is that we are ONE! I write this to you who are followers of Jesus Christ: You have received the Holy Spirit in your life. You were made to drink of the one Spirit. And you have a role in the Body of Christ through that Spirit. Without you, the beautiful mosaic of the Church is incomplete. How precious it is for brothers and sisters to dwell, function, and operate in the unity of the Spirit (cp. Psalm 133:1)! “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit, and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7). Amen and amen! 

When You’ve Never Been This Way Before

In Joshua 3, Joshua is ready to lead the Hebrews across the Jordan River into the land of Canaan. He instructs the people to follow the Levitical priests who would carry the Ark of the Covenant. Joshua tells them to stay close, but not too close, “in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before” (Joshua 3:4).


Joshua was encouraging the people, because they were getting ready to enter new territory, a land they had never visited, ground upon which they had never set foot. Sometimes we all need that encouragement; because there are many times we face life events that are new, foreign or uncomfortable. How many times have you said, “I’ve never passed this way before?”  


When you go on vacation, are you the type of person who goes online, makes all your hotel reservations ahead of time, gets your GPS all pre-programmed, you have several maps in your car just in case your GPS goes down, and you have your vacation agenda all typed out and distributed to the rest of the family ahead of time? Well, if that’s you--then praise God! That’s great. But in life, as much as we try to map it all out ahead of time, we tend to have surprise after surprise, don’t we? Because we’ve never been this way before. 


Have you ever personally led someone to a relationship with Jesus? No? So you’ve never been that way before. Have you ever volunteered to serve in the children’s ministry? No? So you’ve never been that way before. If you’ve never been married, it just means you’ve never been that way before. But that doesn’t mean you can’t go that way in the future! It doesn’t mean you can’t lead someone to Christ now--just because you haven’t before. It doesn’t mean you can’t volunteer and serve in some ministry now--just because you haven’t gone that way before!


Imagine how boring life would be if we only went places we’ve been before! That’s called “Groundhog Day” (for those familiar with that movie). Sometimes we have to step across the Jordan River into some new lands--and we do it together as a community of faith just like the Israelites.


In the very next verse in Joshua 3, Joshua tells the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you” (Joshua 3:5). Wouldn’t it have been incredible to be there for that moment in the history of Israel? Your parents risked everything by leaving Egypt. They passed on this bold faith to you. Moses and that entire generation before you did not get to enter the Promised Land, but they talked about it. They dreamed about it. They yearned for it. And now the day has come where you get to step foot on the soil that symbolizes a whole new beginning for you, your family, and your people.


Did God do amazing things among the people in the past? You bet He did! He led the previous generation through the Red Sea. He guided them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He rained down manna from heaven. But this same God who did all of those amazing things in the past wasn’t finished yet! Joshua is saying to the people--“This same God who did all of these amazing things in the past--you remember Him?? Well, get ready, because He’s about to do even more amazing things among you now!”


So what did the people have to do to get ready? This is very important. Joshua says, “Consecrate yourselves.” What does that mean? That means to set yourself apart for a holy purpose. That same message applies to us today. We need to consecrate ourselves. We need to set ourselves apart for a holy purpose. If God is going to do amazing things among us as a church, it will not come through marketing, facilities or programs. God can use those tools for His glory, but if that’s all it takes, then people will say, “Well, no wonder that church really grew--look at their marketing budget, look at the talented musicians and singers they have.” Music, talents, gifts, facilities, programs--God can do great things through them. But in order for God to do AMAZING things, it takes a people called by His name who have humbled themselves and prayed and sought His face, and turned from their wicked ways (consecrating themselves before God). And when God’s people do that--it’s like the floodgates of heaven open up, and God will do “exceeding, abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine” (Ephesians. 3:20). Do you believe that God "will do amazing things among you”? I encourage you to live a life filled with expectancy as God leads you in unchartered territory where you have never been. Consecrate yourself for His purposes and glory, and then get ready to see God do amazing things in and through you.


 

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