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What are you?
October 3, 2013

“What are you?”

“As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. … Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Cor 12:20-27)

I have a book on my shelf simply entitled Church. It was written by John Stackhouse, professor of theology and culture at Regent College. Chapter 18 essentially deals with the question I am posing in this musing: ‘What are you?’ Stackhouse begins, “Some of us in church on a given Sunday morning are visitors. Some of us are members – but we’re not really members, and we should decide either to be members or not to be members. Others of us are not members, but we are members, so we really ought to become members. Got that?” Well, have you got that?

All of us who are attached in some way to SASS are identified as either a visitor, a member, or (that wonderful term) an adherent. Nothing is expected of a visitor except perhaps common courtesy as they join with the rest of us. A member has formally “joined” and as such we should expect consistent and vigorous involvement from them, including physical labour, spiritual participation, and of course their hard-earned cash. Well, that’s what Stackhouse says – I’m just paraphrasing him. As for that other term, ‘adherent’ – well, adherents might as well be considered members because our expectation of them is the same even if they haven’t formally joined. So, what are you?

Before you consider the question further, let me throw a fourth category at you that will perhaps influence all of your answers. Irrespective of what our structure has created, I prefer the New Testament term for all of us who attend church. We are all disciples. We are all parts of the same body. We are all in fact participants in this particular manifestation of the body of Christ. And as such, we ALL have a role; we all have a part to play – we are all members – period.

Stackhouse astutely adds to the above that “there simply is NO such thing in the Bible as an independent lone ranger Christian who has no allegiance to a particular church.”

Why am I bothering to tell you this? Some of you may think I am hoping that the adherents in our midst come to their senses and “join.” But that is not my intent at all. I am urging all of us to identify ourselves as disciples of Jesus who, at this particular point in their lives, just so happen to be part of the Body of Christ called SASS. If you believe that, then my exhortation to you is this: What part, in the Body, are you and are you doing what you are supposed to be doing? That may sound a bit too direct but in fact it is not me saying it. I’m just quoting Paul. His exhortation to the church in Corinth is clearly this: it is not OK to give the impression that the church will be fine if you decide not to be involved (i.e., if you neglect to play your part). Nonsense. We are NOT fine without you being fully engaged, involved. God has placed you here for HIS purpose. He has gifted you with incredible talents and HE has created you to be passionate about certain things.

I believe God wants His Body – all of it – to work effectively and efficiently, and He has planned to do something exciting and important for it here. So the question is not whether you agree with me but whether you are going to accept what you are – because God made you that way.

Brothers and sisters in Christ – fellow disciples – a new church year is dawning before us. We can get together once a week and sing songs of praise and share a coffee for five minutes in the hall afterwards. Or we can grow, mature, become everything that Jesus wants us to be. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get on with what God wants us to do for His glory.


Your brother in Christ,


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