We as Christians are pictured as united together in the body of Christ. What does it mean to be the body of Christ? It means He works through us and empowers us to do His work in the world (Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 1:29; Philippians 2:13; 2 Corinthians 3:18). Now it is clear it is His work both to build His church (Matthew 16:18) and to cause it to grow up in Him (Colossians 2:19). This is important because, while we frequently realize we need God's power to live for Him (John 15:5), we often try to carry out God's work in the world based on our cleverness and organizational ability. Or we recognize the need for God's power but see Him as a magic genie to carry out our purposes rather than the God who works all things after the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11; Colossians 1:18, 19).
It is also important to realize that we work together as a body to accomplish God's purpose. We are pictured as a body of which each part is necessary (1 Corinthians 12:12-26; Romans 12:3-8). This tells against our culture's strong tendency toward individualism. There is a tendency for people to think of ministry and discipleship from a individualistic point of view rather then seeing ourselves as part of a larger body. Now don't get me wrong, I fully affirm that it is necessary to for a person to grow up in Christ rather then remaining in spiritual infancy (1 Peter 2:2; 1 Corinthians 3:1-3; Hebrews 5:11-14). But we are to grow together as a result of all of us working in each others lives (Ephesians 4:11-16; Hebrews 10:24,25). Further, we see that we are all members of the body with different functions. We are not all meant to be the same or pressed into one mold. No member is to see itself as better than another because its function or to claim that others are not following God if they are not empowered with the same abilities (1 Corinthians 13:1-3; 12:28-31). But all of us are to see that we have something to contribute to the welfare of others (1 Peter 4:10,11).
Therefore, we as Christ's body should work together to carry out His work in the world. That does not mean there should not be human leadership; this is required in Scripture (Titus 1:5-9). But leaders should avoid pressing everyone into a one-size-fits-all program that ignores their differences. Or leaving them on their own to try to find their personal ministries rather than working together. At the same time, every person under the leaders needs to ask how God would have them work together with the other parts of the body to accomplish God's purpose. This is not just doing one's own thing independently or waiting for the leadership to decide everything for them. Accomplishing this is a careful balance and hard to maintain, but one we need to work towards.
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