Church Life
Shane Johnson

Why You Are Needed In The Church

I recently suffered a sports injury and it acutely drove home a spiritual truth to me. After tearing the anterior ligament on my right ankle, I learned, very painfully, the truth that we are all members of one body, and that each member has a vital role to play. 

That is to say, I need every part of my body to function optimally in order for my whole body to function optimally, and the same is true for the church.

We need every member to function in a healthy way in order for the whole church to function optimally.  

What my ankle taught me  

My private tutor for the last month has been the little verse found in 1 Corinthians chapter 12. “Those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary” (1 Corinthians 12:22). I now understand that every ligament is necessary.

The all-seeing eye cannot say to the sightless hand, “I have no need of you.” Nor can the all-commanding head say to the brainless feet, “I have no need of you.”

My ankle, actually the small ligament of my ankle, made me cry out on multiple occasions, “I need you, oh, I need you!” 

Let me recount the ways my life has been  impaired by that little ligament that “seems weaker” but is necessary. I could neither walk straight, nor very fast, let alone run or jump. I couldn’t drive, exercise or stand for long periods of time.

My sleep was restless, my livelihood was compromised and my family life was hindered. In short, the quality of my life was running at about sixty percent or less. Hardly, optimally.  

What happens when you are gone? 

You may think you do not have a spiritual gift or that you have not yet discovered it. You may think no one sees you at church or that your presence does not make much of a difference. It may seem like you are just a small, insignificant, invisible ligament. 

But when you are not there, especially for long periods of time, people miss you. People miss the way you smiled or greeted them with conversation week after week, making them feel welcome or appreciated.

People miss the sincerity of your prayer or the patient way you listen while they talk. People miss your comforting hugs or your deep respect for the Word of God. 

Powerfully small 

The fact that people miss you means that you are making a contribution to the body. Like an ankle ligament you bring stability and mobility to the rest of the body parts. Like a small joint, you are the link that helps someone else develop or use their gift in the church. 

You may indeed be small but you are powerfully small. God made you that way. Your contribution is imperceptibly significant. Do you not know we serve a God who loves to work with small things? (1 Corinthians 1:29) 

In fact, you may be the very reason some people come back to visit your church, or the reason why some people look forward to attending on Sundays. You may be the one who encourages someone to press on, or inspires someone to live a godly life.

No matter how small or “insignificant” we may perceive our own selves to be, we are all contributing to the healthy and optimal functioning of the church body.  

Other ligaments  

Take my wife, for example. She does not so much attend church for the sermons or the singing. What she is really interested in is the conversations she has with people and the service she provides.

Often in the nursery, she does not even hear the sermon but ministers to others through relevant conversations. She receives encouragement too, through the nourishing words she is given. The mouth may be preaching on the pulpit but my wife, the ligament, is supporting the feet in the nursery. 

Those who serve are also “ligaments” in the church. Without those who dedicate themselves to serving, where would be the fellowship of eating and drinking around the table?

The table is one of the most important environments for “speaking the truth in love” into each other’s eyes and hearts. The servants enable that fellowship. It takes a massive amount of work to prepare for, and feed, and clean-up for sixty, eighty or an hundred people. Those who serve support

the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry…for the edifying of the body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:12

Joined and knit together perfectly  

God has placed each one of us, large or small, exactly where He would have us in the body. Whether large or small, we all have a role to play for size is nothing to God. He created the planet Jupiter and the micro amoeba and He knows how to use them both.

You may think or even feel you are insignificant but in reality you are vital to the optimal functioning of the body. God’s intention is that we may all grow up into Christ

from whom the whole body, joined and knit together from what every joint supplies…causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. 

Ephesians 4:16

Photo by Nino Liverani

Shane Johnson

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