Yesterday, we looked at how we – like strong trees – must be rooted in Jesus Christ, in order to stand strong against the storms of life. Without a strong foundation, and a high degree of being connected to Him, we risk being uprooted and blown over when the storms of life come upon us.
There is a second way in which trees can be damaged in a storm, where part of the tree breaks off entirely. This might be a branch that is torn off and falls to the ground, leaving a pointed trail of ripped bark and wood. Other times, tall trees will be broken through the trunk, cracked in half (and sometimes lying across the trail where my family is hiking!).
Let’s look again at the passage from Ephesians that appeared in yesterday’s article:
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
Ephesians 4:14-16 NASB
Here, especially in the latter part of these verses, we have the church growing through the power that Jesus provides, but each member also has a role to play. As I read it, each participant in the body of Christ has a responsibility to help hold the body together.
This illustration might be unrealistic, but if my shoulder decided to stop doing its job today, my arm would fall off, like one of those Lego minifigures subjected to too much force!
If every single member of the body of Christ isn’t doing our part to maintain the connectivity of the body, it makes it a lot harder to grow. To again compare the church to our physical bodies, if my blood vessels decided to not carry oxygen to my limbs (and cart away junk from their cells), there’s a problem and my arm or leg falls asleep. In the forest, I’ve heard that an animal can gnaw a ring around a tree, cutting off the juice-transporting material around the outside of the tree, and killing off further growth.
In the same way, we must do our part to maintain the unity and integrity of the body of Christ. We may be familiar with Jesus’ prayer for unity among His followers, and this is a fundamental responsibility of every follower of Jesus. I propose that our “connectivity” with others in the body is part of how we achieve this.
One of the main ways that we connect to other believers is through relationships. Whether this is done in-person, achieved remotely through technology, or both, these relationships connect us, and let the love of Jesus flow through the body, as we share burdens and serve each other in His name.
So, who are you “connecting” to within the body of Christ? Is there a family member who can’t get out of the house, whom you serve in Jesus’ name? Is there a friend who confides in you, and needs you to listen and provide Godly advice? Are there fellow believers who need some instruction and guidance (or even loving correction), to help them to grow?
You can contribute to the strength of the body, not because you are the source of growth, but because you connect others with the power and love of Jesus. Sometimes, He gives us the grace to share blessings with other people, or He may have us pass good things from one part of the body to another. We also help to prevent people in the church from becoming detached (disconnected from Jesus and the church), when we ensure that they are maintaining healthy relationships with Him and with others in His body.
If we all participate in the integrity of the body, being strong branches and helping everyone remain strongly connected to the roots and the trunk, we can collectively sustain forces that try to fragment the church from within, as well as external forces that try to pull us away from Jesus.
In order to have individual and combined strength, we must be rooted in Jesus Christ individually, and collectively connected to both Him and to each other. So, let Jesus be the source of your strength today. Let Him hold you in fellowship with other believers, and sink your roots into Him as your foundation. At the risk of introducing yet another metaphor, be like the man who built his house on the rock!
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD
And whose trust is the LORD.
For he will be like a tree planted by the water,
That extends its roots by a stream
And will not fear when the heat comes;
But its leaves will be green,
And it will not be anxious in a year of drought
Nor cease to yield fruit.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 NASB
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation.