by Erin Bird

Welcome to August! Hard to believe summer is two-thirds over, and school will be starting up in just 3 short weeks. How are you going to make the most of these remaining summer days?

Continuing on with Romans 12

We are in the early part of a series from Romans 12 here on the blog. Last week we looked at verse 3, so this week we will look at verses 4 & 5, which say:

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Paul, after talking about humility, reminds his readers in ancient Rome (as well as us in modern Iowa), that just as they each have a physical body with many different parts, the church is the Body of Christ, which is made up of many different parts (which is us!).

Next week, we’ll see Paul talk about the differences of those Body parts. But this week I want us to look at the emphasis Paul puts on a key concept in these week’s sentence: Unity.

United by Christ

With the Republican and Democratic conventions having both finished, America seems more divided than ever. Not only do the Republicans and Democrats hate each other right now, but the GOP party seems to have a lot of division over Trump, the Bernie supporters are angry at the DNC’s nomination of Hillary, and the Libertarian and Green parties are hoping this is the year they do the unthinkable against the two-party system they hate.

So much for being the “United” States of America. (Perhaps the Olympics will bring a little unity to our nation…)

Sometimes, politics creep into the church. And I’m not talking about whether you have an R, D, or I on your voter registration card. Sometimes, church attenders will disagree over doctrine, worship style, volume levels, and such. And they will engage in political campaigns to get their ideas accepted by the rest of the church.

But these church “campaigns” rarely lead to unity. Usually someone gets mad, people leave, and the gospel gets lost in the chaos.

But what Paul is stressing in Romans 12 is that while we are each individuals, we don’t belong to just ourselves. If we are Jesus-followers, then we are owned by Jesus through His gospel, which in turn means we belong to each other.

Think about that. If you are not your own, if you belong to those who are part of your church family, then you can’t clamor and play politics trying to get things done your way. Out of humility (which we talked about last week), you place the needs and desires of others before yourself, so that you might help them find and follow Jesus.

Imagine what church would be like if we realized we didn’t belong to just ourselves, but that we belonged to one another? We would love one another deeply, we’d pray for each other earnestly, we’d serve each other willingly, we’d give to one another generously, we’d avoid sin more ferociously, and we’d we’d bear one another’s burdens gladly.

But in order for that to happen, it means we have to invite people into our lives. We can’t sit back waiting for others to come love us. Instead, because we belong to one another, we jump in and get to know one another, hear their stories, invite them into our homes, help with their kids, listen to their worries, and serve them with food, skills, or our presence.

So this week, reach out to someone in the Riverwood family. Invite them over for a meal or to go out for lunch after Sunday’s Worship Gathering. Or perhaps you can invite someone to come serve alongside of you on Sunday or at Tuesday’s Food Bank. Let’s care for one another because we belong to each other through our faith in Jesus.