While predestination establishes the Sovereign end to which a Christian can aspire to and progressively experience in real-time, and priesthood represents our personal responsibility in daily, moment by moment, contact with God; there is something of the peculiarity of a believer that we must take into account, as we seek to live faithfully before the LORD and fruitfully with other members of the LORD’s body.
At the very moment of salvation, the new believer, being grafted into Christ, is specifically fixed into a definite point in the LORD’s body, which, unknown to the new believer, already defines the solution (ministry or service) he represents to the rest of the body, and the role he will be required to play in the days to come. The expression of grace, the combination of gifts, as well as, the scope of his relevance (which is how he is structured to serve) to the rest of us (the LORD’s body) is already established on the very day of salvation.
1 Corinthians 12:18 (emphasis mine)
“But now hath God SET the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.”
Jesus is the Vine
And those of us who have been cut off from the wild olive (saved from sin) and grafted into the Good Olive (alive in Christ) are the branches. (John 15:1-2, 5; Romans 11:24, 1 Corinthians 12:13). The point at which you have been grafted is the SET place for you to blossom, and to serve the rest of us with that which has been kept into your care for us by the Vine. If we will be attentive to the workings of God in and around our lives, we will realize that the way we have been made (constructed) to serve is according to the measure of grace we have received, and where we have been located in the body.
Differences of administration
This is why some may have a public ministry and others may have a more hidden work that cannot be taken for granted. Even when we seem to be in the spotlight, it largely depends on the hidden routines of our inner fellowship with God, as well as, the hidden work of those fellow members with us of the body of Christ, who may not have been appointed to such an assignment. The brother-preacher depends on the hidden machinery of his own fervent walk with God, as God shows him mercy, and the support he enjoys from his helpmeet, who graciously relives him of several important domestic activities that could have “punctuated” (hindered) his relevance.
Each person’s part is important and you must choose never to look down on what you have been given. Just know that as little as it may seem to you, the rest of the body depends on it. And you know that, you also depend on others for what you don’t have. God has made it so, in order to ensure that (as important as we may think we are) we remain in fellowship with others, without which we could never have a ministry. This interdependence is the hallmark of Christ-likeness. It keeps us humble. Whenever we are giving, we are reminded that we have already received from others before, and we will yet be required to sit down to receive from others, as we finish our own turn of dispensing.
As spiritual as you may be, there may be a quiet cloud of uncertainty over your spirit, that may be gradually degenerating into worry, which a very casual brother or sister can give a word of encouragement that easily dispels that cloud. You will notice that there was no struggle on the part of this person to give such an encouragement; it was a natural outflow of his life. That is the ministerial/service component of the life supply of Christ that is at work in him, as a branch on the Vine.
We are usually in need for an excessively long period of time because we take God’s order for granted. What you need now has a supply in another but if you have despised the need to be in fellowship, you have, by the same token, cut off the appointed “branch” that could have given you the desired supply. And I dare say, you also have a supply that someone needs, and you have kept that person waiting indefinitely!
Remember, it is that which you have been given, much more than others (that makes you special), that God expects you to dispense regularly to your members (other branches like you on the Vine). Hence, you always have something to give; don’t deprive your members their supply in your life (hands).
1 Corinthians 12:25
“…there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.”
From 1 Corinthians 12:18 above, we see that it is God the Father that does the grafting. He is called the Husbandman in John 15:1. He has SET each one of us into a specific space in the Vine, in Christ, and it is that grafting that determines your setting (the way you have been configured to participate in the continuous distribution of Christ-life in the body).
“Christ has put each part of the church in its right place. Each part helps other parts. This is what is needed to keep the whole body together. In this way, the whole body grows strong in love.” (New Life Version)
“Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly, and each part in its own special way helps the other parts, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (The Living Bible)
Whereas we have all received the same kind of life, Christ-life, and we have the same opportunity to “…grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…” (2 Peter 3:18), however, the differences of our peculiar situations, the diversities of the Spirit’s workings in our lives and the emphasis that our individual callings impose on us, demands that we accept the personality we have been endowed with.
Each branch is the same, yet different. The content is the same (Christ-life) but the context is different (grace, gifts and calling). There is no calling or assignment in Christ that can compromise the Christ-life itself. In fact each calling is an expression of grace designed to show the diverse ways the Spirit glorifies Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)
Know what you have been made to be
In as much as we will not go about coining technical titles for our services within the body, we must know what we have been made to be, by God, to the rest of the body of Christ. The other members of the body depends on the life supply of Christ that comes from the joyful discharge of your grace and gifts, of course, through the platform of your calling. In the same vein, you also have the privilege of receiving the life supply of Christ through their own peculiar grace and gifts.
When we have this continuous give and take relationship at work among God’s people, where we give what we have and receive what we don’t have, we are witnessing the sweet fellowship of the saints. This is one of the reasons why you don’t really want to be like another in the body. There can only be one of his or her type, and there can only be one of your type. However great the ministry of one may be to the rest of us, when we have received of Christ from him and are full, we also have something of Christ to give in return, however little it may seem.
Recognizing your peculiarity in sobriety
The danger here is that we all are prone to think more highly than we ought to think of ourselves and our relevance to the body. In the light of our predestination to be holy and blameless before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4-5) and our privilege to minister directly to God as priests (Revelation 5:10), all of which are delivered unto us by God’s grace and not by our works, we have the more reasons to be sober about our peculiar placements in Christ.
We have not received any gift or grace to feel bigger or better than anyone of our brothers and sisters. Even when our calling seems to place us at a position of influence over many, we must remember that we are only giving to all who receive from us that which actually belongs to them. We have not been endowed for ourselves but for others of the household of faith and those whom the LORD will eventually draw unto Himself.
Finally, your uniqueness is more picturesque (vivid) in the context of others who have been made to be diverse from you. Our relevance is more profound when we are in fellowship with others. This is because they will learn to reserve the portion of service you do well than any other for you, and you should also learn to humbly release your hold on some aspects of service that can actually be done better by others. This is the joy of fellowship. As we each reserve that which we have no natural supply for, and focus on the consistent supply we have, we are giving room for the growth of the body of Christ. Honestly, this is your privilege!
Note: Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.
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