Some Christians don’t want to be connected to other members of the body of Christ. They commune with Jesus, but they deliberately isolate themselves from other believers. They want nothing to do with the body, other than the head.
A body can’t be comprised of just a single member, though. Can you picture a head with only an arm growing out of it? Christ’s body can’t be made up of a head alone, with no limbs or organs. His body consists of many members. We are knit together not only by our need for Jesus but also by our need for each other.
Paul stated, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you’” (1 Corinthians 12:21, NKJV). Note the second half of this verse. Paul was telling believers, “Christ will never say to any member of his body, ‘I have no need of you.’” Our head willingly connects himself to each of us. Moreover, he says we’re all important, even necessary, to the functioning of his body.
This is especially true of members who may be bruised and hurting. Paul emphasized, “Much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary” (12:22). The apostle then added, “And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty” (12:23). He was speaking of those in Christ’s body who are unseen and unknown. In God’s eyes, these members have great honor, and they’re absolutely necessary to the work of his body.
This passage holds profound meaning for us all. Paul was telling members of the church, “It doesn’t matter how poor your self-image may be. You may think that you’re not measuring up as a Christian. But the Lord himself says, ‘I have need of you. You’re not just an important member of his body. You’re vital and necessary for it to function.’”
In the gospels, Jesus told his disciples, “…on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity…men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Luke 21:25-26, NKJV). Christ’s warning to them and us is “Without hope in me, multitudes of people are literally going to die of fright!”
For those who trust in God’s promises to preserve his children, however, there is glorious freedom from all fear. In fact, all who come under the lordship of Christ never need to fear again if they’ll just lay hold of the following secret: True freedom from fear consists of totally resigning one’s life into the hands of the Lord.
Resigning ourselves into God’s care is an act of faith. It means putting ourselves completely under his power, wisdom and mercy. It means being led and preserved according to his will alone. If we do this, the God of the universe promises to be totally responsible for us, to feed, clothe and shelter us, and to guard our hearts from all evil.
Jesus provided the ultimate example of this kind of holy resignation when he went to the cross. Just before he gave up his spirit, he cried aloud, “…Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit…” (Luke 23:46).
Christ literally placed the keeping of both his life and his eternal future in the custody of the Father. In doing so, he placed the souls of every one of his sheep into the Father’s hands too.
You may wonder, “But didn’t Jesus say he had the power both to lay down his life and to take it up again?” (See John 10:18.) Since he had the power to “take up his life again,” why did he resign it into God’s hand to be preserved? The answer is obvious. Jesus did it to set an example for all of his sheep to follow!
If we are being asked to trust our lives to someone, then we have to know that this someone has the power to keep us from all danger, threats and violence. We must have the confidence of the apostle Paul as he writes, “…I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Timothy 1:12).
One of the Bible’s most powerful and yet also misused promises is “I can do all things through him [Christ] who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13, ESV).
This is not meant for the football player to put on their eye black and say, “I can smash the other team.” It is not meant for the MMA fighter to put on his robe that he wears up to the cage, saying, “I can do all things with Christ. I can beat up this other guy.”
That’s not what this scripture means, not even in the slightest. Paul is talking about suffering, endurance and knowing how to live without. The book of Acts tells us that the Philippian church was living in extreme poverty, and there was a certain point in their poverty where they couldn’t give money to Paul who was in prison. Now when you’re in a prison in Rome, they don’t feed you. You have to have friends who bring you food. The Philippians were Paul’s main resource, but they didn’t have money to give, so there was a season when he was going without.
That’s when he said, “You know, even when I’m abased like this, even when I have nothing, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
You may have this verse on your refrigerator, talking about your diet. Sure, that might help, but this promise is about much more. When your life feels like it’s falling apart, you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you with a peace that surpasses all understanding (see Philippians 4:7).
This strength, this peace is what allows us to deal with the great difficulties in our lives. Maybe you’re facing a bitter spouse or prodigal child who’s breaking your heart. The ability to keep pressing in can only be done with the power of the Lord.
As a child, my daughter Elisabeth, once asked us for a hamster as a birthday present. So we gave it to her, and she named it Bidule. She petted him, spoke to him, and was just in love with him.
One morning, while we were getting ready to go to church, my wife took Bidule out of his cage so that he could stretch and run around a bit on the balcony, but then she forgot him there! After a whole morning at church and a meal at a restaurant under a blazing sun, we finally returned home to discover that Bidule was in hamster heaven, dried up by Quebec’s summer sun.
Elisabeth was inconsolable. Of course, my wife and I didn’t try to downplay her pain by saying things like “Come on! Honestly, it was a rat. Need I remind you that there are starving children in third world countries?” No! It was important to her; it was important to us too. So we listened to her tears. Bidule was even given a funeral service, officiated by me in the backyard (my only animal funeral, I can assure you). My daughter was brave enough to say a few words: “Bidule was a good hamster. Bidule was loved by all.”
Today I share this memory with a smile, but it is to better illustrate two points of great blessing for you and your loved ones.
No matter how old our children are, let's take their pain seriously. They will have hardships to go through, from the pain of their first lost love to a rejection from their dream university, from a sports failure to serious illness. Our responsibility as Christian parents is to listen to their grief, to seek to understand it without minimizing or denying it. Listening to their pain with empathy, seriousness, attention and compassion is already teaching our children how to face it.
Our children learn from our example. Above all, our responsibility is to trace a path for them. Their path of faith is carved out in the wake of our own witness. They witness our struggles. They are the first to see us pass through our storms and, by the grace of God, continue to move forward, to pray, to serve God, to love, to give, to forgive.
Our children will develop their own capacity to overcome hardship by how we treat their pain and by watching our own attitudes and faith in the midst of trials.
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.
You can’t weep your way into this heavenly place. You can’t study or work or will your way in. No, the only way to the throne-life is by way of a living sacrifice: “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).
Paul is speaking from experience. Here is a man who was rejected, tempted, persecuted, beaten, jailed, shipwrecked, stoned. Paul also had all the cares of the church laid on him. Now he’s saying to us, “Do you want to know how I came to be content in whatever condition I was placed, how I came to find true rest in Christ? Here is the path, the secret to appropriating your heavenly position: Present your body as a living sacrifice to the Lord.”
The Greek root for “living” here suggests “lifelong.” Paul is talking about a binding commitment, a sacrifice that’s made once in a lifetime. Yet, don’t misunderstand; this isn’t a sacrifice that has to do with propitiation for sin. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is the only worthy propitiation: “Now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:26).
The sacrifice Paul describes is one that God takes great pleasure in, precisely because it involves the heart. What is this sacrifice? It is one of death to our will, of laying aside our self-sufficiency and abandoning our ambitions.
When Paul exhorts, “Present your body,” he’s saying, “Draw near to the Lord.” Yet, what does this mean, exactly? It means drawing near to God for the purpose of offering our entire selves to him. It means coming to him not in our own sufficiency, but as a resurrected child, as holy in Jesus’ righteousness, as being accepted by the Father through our position in Christ. The moment you resign your will to him, the sacrifice has been made. It happens when you give up the struggle of trying to please God on your own. This act of faith is the “reasonable service” Paul refers to. It’s all about trusting him with our will, believing he’ll provide all the blessings we need.