Every so often, someone may ask you, “Do you belong here?” It’s usually asked in relation to a country club, a gym, or something similar. They’re wondering, “Is this a place that identifies you as being on its lists? Do people here know you and accept you, and would they miss you if you were absent?”
Paul often uses the illustration of the body to describe the church. We don’t have to stretch our imagination to make sense of it. We all have a body that is made up of a variety of parts, and each part has a unique function. Not all parts are seen, but all of them are important. If one part is not working or is missing, it makes a difference to all the rest. The effectiveness of someone’s entire body depends on its control by the head. This holds true as well in the body of Christ, each local church: the spiritual body functions properly only when it works together under Jesus’ headship. When that happens, we function with…
• unity, because we’re not living in isolation from each other.
• plurality, because we’re made up of different bits and pieces.
• diversity, because the functions of the body are necessarily varied.
• harmony, which we enjoy when things are working in cohesion.
• identity, showing that each of us cannot ultimately be ourselves when we are by ourselves.
In other words, when as an individual you understand the nature of the body of Christ, you better understand who you are and where you fit. As a member of the body of Christ, you do belong somewhere. When God’s grace has transformed us, we should find that it matters increasingly to us that we have been called into relationship with one another—into community. We’re diverse in the gifts that have been given; none of us can make up the body individually but only together. Each of us belongs to one another. We gather as church, then, in order to give of ourselves both to each other and, ultimately, to our Lord. We contribute to the body by our presence, our songs, our prayers, and our fellowship. As Isaac Watts wrote:
My tongue repeats her vows,
“Peace to this sacred house!”
For there my friends and kindred dwell.
Church is not a place for you merely to show up at and attend. It is a body. It is your kin—your family. You need your church; and your church needs you. The more committed to your church you are, the more blessed by it you will be; for few things in life are better than when God puts His people together, because together is exactly where we belong.