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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

December 15, 2017

God's puzzle: the church

Filed under CoG Potpourri

The "birthday boy" buys the drinks for his friends, at least that is often what happens in Germany. In the United States the tradition was quite different. The "birthday boy" was the center of attention, receiving gifts from family and friends, and sometimes even telling people in advance what he wanted for his birthday. (And that might explain the earlier viewpoint of the church on the subject of birthdays, with the viewpoint basically being based on the American tradition.)

So the "birthday party" here was quite a surprise for the guests when the "birthday boy" turned the tables on his relatives and friends. He gave them all a gift! And along with the gift was a personalized greeting card, on which he had written a few things about the person. In the middle of the card there was a puzzle piece, and after the meal the guests had the task of putting the puzzle together by joining all their individual puzzle pieces. So each guest had to contribute something to make the puzzle complete.

This experience reminded me of the church of God, which in its own way is kind of like a puzzle. Who isn't familiar with the analogy of the body that the apostle Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 12? The church is the body of Christ, and under the inspiration of the holy spirit Paul compares this body with the human body. In the same way that a human body is comprised of hands, feet, arms and legs, eyes, etc., so all the members of the body of Christ need to be present to build the whole church.

A human body that is missing a limb is incomplete. The same is true of the body of Christ. Members of the body of Christ who "go independent" are missing from the body, just as an amputated limb is missing from a human body. Those who really want to be Jesus' disciples can't remove themselves from the body, and no member of the body can tell others members that they aren't needed (verse 12-17).

The first and last verses of the chapter show us that God is the one who "places" us within the body of Christ. The various members of the human body don't compare themselves. They don't feel superior or inferior towards the other parts of the body. They just do their part in making the whole body function. And that is how it should be in the church of God as well. The often overlooked contributions of individual members are prayer and encouragement.

God calls us to His church. And like the "birthday boy" who surprised his guests with a gift it is our responsibility to give something to the church as a contributing member of the body that enables the complete functioning of that body. It is only through all our contributions that the "puzzle" God is putting together by calling each of us will be complete.

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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