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Building Up the Church

by | Feb 2, 2022 | Body of Christ, Servitude

“… Since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church. One who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. … I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. Otherwise, … you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue. Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.” (1 Corinthians 14:12b-13, 15b-16a, 17-20 ESV)

I have a dear friend who was thinking of leaving her church. She felt others had let her down. Her feelings were hurt, and she thought nobody cared. “Staying here is not helping me,” she said. “I don’t think I’m getting anything out of this church anymore.”

I couldn’t say she was wrong. People do hurt each other and even break their commitments—sometimes without even realizing it. And there are times when the best choice is to go elsewhere, for whatever reason, and figuring out what God wants you to do takes a lot of thought and prayer and the counsel of wise Christian friends. And yet I had to ask.

“You say you aren’t getting anything out of church anymore and you can do without them,” I said. “But what about the other half? Do you think you are finished with the work God put you in this church to do? Can they do without you?”

Because there are two parts to our interaction with other Christians, aren’t there? There’s what we get from them—preaching, teaching, communion, prayer, fellowship, concern, and love. But there’s also what we give to them—and that’s the bit it’s so easy to forget about.

Paul says, “Strive to excel in building up the church …. In church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.” Whether you are ordained or a layperson, you have a role to play in the church. Some roles are very obvious: teacher, preacher, elder, trustee. Some roles get overlooked: garden weeder, food bank stocker, organizer of the potlucks. Some roles may be known to no one but you and God: caller of lonely people, distractor of toddlers while their parents take Communion, person who notices when someone is absent—and quietly checks up to see that they’re okay.

And above all, there is the pray-er—the person who regularly, faithfully, and in complete privacy asks God to meet the needs of the church—to protect the weak, provide for the poor, comfort the grieving, and inspire those who teach and preach. The church cannot do without those who pray—those who come into God’s presence asking Him to do what we cannot—to grow His church and to bring people to faith in Jesus.

No matter what your situation is, your presence is a blessing to the church. How could it be otherwise? You are a member of the body of Christ, and Jesus lives through you—the same Jesus who lay down His life for the church and for the whole world. The love that drove Him to the cross—the love that raised Him from the dead, and will raise you also—that love is living and alive in you, a blessing to those around you.

Prayer: Dear Lord, live through me and use me to build up Your church in whatever way You see best. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved

Reflection Questions:
1. Can you think of someone who is faithful in a kind of care or service even though it usually gets overlooked?
2. When was one time that God blessed you through a fellow church member?
3. How does God use you in your current situation in life?