My mom has recently had to change her diet to all paleo. My mom who makes the best homemade spaghetti and eats oatmeal every morning. My mom who enjoys a good diet coke (as do I). My mom who likes bread like the next human. The doctor looked at her and asked her to change everything in order for her body to remain healthy. Make every effort, the doctor said. Your body depends on it.
And so she did. And so she is.
In the past week, my mom has eaten nothing but clean foods. My dad and mom stormed Whole Foods and Natural Grocers like it was Black Friday. All meat, some veggies and absolutely no sugar. They’ve even gone so far as to leave no trace of plastic behind. Glass jars only and coconut oil in giant containers. And because women love chocolate, my brother created something ***that looks like chocolate*** with coconut oil (because miracles do happen.)
Make every effort. Your body depends on it.
As I watched my mom strive to figure out this new lifestyle, I thought about us. I thought about the Church. Are we striving? Are we making every effort for unity? Is that what the world sees?
A group bearing the name of Jesus striving for unity among one another.
Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. Ephesians 4:3
But the reality is that there are more cracks and barriers among believers than ever before. Take five minutes on Facebook and you’ll understand. Believers stabbing other believers with harsh words and maybe even harsher feelings. What happens behind screens is one phenomenon and one that seems too formidable to tackle. The story I want to tell today is what is happening in your own church body.
Because if our own local bodies can’t be healed, why would the church as a whole have a chance? Let alone some conversation happening on a screen?
So what do we do to gulp down this command made by Paul, an early apostle? How can we make every effort to bind ourselves together?
We Remember Christ Jesus (our body depends on it)
The term Christ is mentioned seven times in Ephesians 4. Christ means anointed one. Because of this truth, Paul could lay his whole life down in surrender. So can we. And the marking of the gospel always come in a paradox. It is in the laying down that there is abundant life.
When we can fix our minds on who God is and less on who we are, mountains will move. Unfortunately, our society has taught us to become more inward focused than upward focused. We place more emphasis on self than on who made self, and therein lies our problem. When we do this we can easily slip into becoming consumers of the gospel rather than participants.
When the weight of the cross is beckoning us to lay down our life for one another.
How are you laying down your life for unity in your local body?
Serve throughout the Week (our body depends on it)
Participation on Sunday is the beautiful coming back to be built up together. To raise our hands in unity and say “we believe Jesus Christ is our Lord” and for the next six days we are going to break our bodies, our homes, our minds and our feelings for the people around us.
When Sunday comes we should need to gulp it down because our broken bodies need the nutrients. We become gluttons if we haven’t burned off the energy of the previous Sunday.
So, Church members, let’s serve together. And when we serve, let’s be okay with it looking like the breaking of our bodies. We can even hold our tongues when excuses bubble up. We can remember Christ.
And we can be okay with the breaking together because Sunday is coming.
How are you serving with others in your church?
Do something uncomfortable (our body depends on it)
You were hoping I wouldn’t go here. And those of you still reading, took a deep breath. But I must for my sake and yours and now our comfortable selves feel awkwardly uncomfortable.
Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” And then he did it — he followed through — he laid down his life for you and for me. And further more, he asks us to follow his example.
This makes us extremely uncomfortable. And we begin to look inward again.
I am an extreme introvert.
My calendar is far too busy.
I don’t have any talents to give.
I don’t see the point.
My house is too messy.
And we circle around to the breaking. He broke the bread for us so we can break our bodies for others. No matter the challenge. No matter how tired. No matter how different. No matter how awkward.
We make every effort for unity. We strive. Our body depends on it.
What uncomfortable thing can you do this week for a church member?
Sisters (and brothers) can we tuck this verse in our hearts? Can we make every effort? Let’s start small. Let’s think of one way we can bind ourselves up in peace. Maybe it’s a note to a friend or a coffee invitation. Maybe it’s asking her to go on a walk with you. Or maybe it’s the big stuff like asking for forgiveness or opening your home for a meal. And maybe once you do one little thing it will lead to another and another and all of a sudden you are breaking your body so you are ready to gulp down Sunday only to go back out again.
We will break and be bound up again. We will serve our church and her members. And we will begin to see that her body depends on it. And she might just come back to life.