Simply put, the Body of Christ is not a worship service. Nor is it a collection of human components organized and trained to produce a worship experience. The Body of Christ is Jesus performing his redemptive work through the yielded obedience of his people. It is Jesus doing his emancipating work, his invincible way, through the weakness of his surrendered people.
So, what is a kingdom corrective to our current understanding? What is a more biblical understanding of the nature of Jesus’ Church? Perhaps it starts with a radical recalibration of Whose we are. True prophets do not read the temperature of the room to decide on their deliverables. Instead, they start with a kingdom perspective, “What is King Jesus asking of us?”
We are the functioning Body of Christ in community, not a well-tuned Sunday service. And though we value the weekly gathering of believers for corporate worship and biblical instruction, we also understand that Jesus’ purpose for his Body cannot be contained in that hour. It is impossible.
Therefore, what we most highly prize, publicly celebrate, and consider as our ultimate act of worship is preparing the entire Body of Christ as sacrificial servants for Jesus’ 24-7 mission and his imminent return.
(John 4:24, Acts 2:46–47, Acts 13:2, Romans 12:1–5, 1 Corinthians 12:12, Ephesians 4:11–16, Hebrews 13:20–21)
(Note: For each of the Seven Temptations in this series of articles, I am including a few illustrating paragraphs of narrative from my novel, “Once You See: Seven Temptations of the Western Church”)
A Different ‘Body’ Illustrated in ‘Once You See’
Robinson was the wealthy, charismatic, and obviously well-dressed chairman of deacons who led the insurrection against his father’s leadership. Year after year, Dr. Lewis cast a single vision that increased with intensity each time it came from his lips. It was a dream of becoming a church that was seen and experienced as good news to the community. A church that dished out good works and good news in equal measure. [Luca] remembered his papa saying, “You may not appreciate this image, brothers and sisters, but we need to transform ourselves into spiritual love. Our good news clarifies our faith. Our good work verifies it. We can’t have one without the other.”
It played to mixed reviews.
But when Pastor Lewis’ poetic otherworld imagery finally merged with a concrete and executable plan, the nonsense had gone too far. Marcus E. Robinson felt that he had to bring a corrective reality to the naïve musings of their pastor. He was, after all, the chairman of deacons.
One Sunday, after Pastor Lewis preached a stemwinder of a sermon on the sheep and the goats, Marcus E. Robinson had his fill. He snatched the microphone from a lesser deacon who was assigned to pray for the offering and launched his own spiritual counter-offensive.
“Brothers and sisters, becoming the hands and feet of Jesus in the ’hood is all well and good, but let us be practical.”
He went on for another ten minutes, proclaiming the virtues of good expository preaching, stirring worship, and deep Bible instruction, and how an attractively appointed “tabernacle” honors the King of Kings. But Robinson wasn’t finished. He saved his best stuff for last. He slowed his cadence and lowered his voice as he whispered his big, definitive theological bomb into the highjacked mic. “Now listen up, people, and don’t be hoodwinked by a smooth talkin’ preacha’. Remember what the good book says: ‘Charity begins at home!’ Can I get an amen?”