Recently I noticed an ad for the Marines with the slogan: Are You Ready to Commit to Something Greater than Yourself? No doubt this ad has been effective in persuading lots of young people to enlist in the Marines. It is a high impact message. I think it strikes a chord in us because God placed a need inside of us to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.
People seek to fill this need with lots of stuff. People join organizations, health clubs, and country clubs. People spend up to thousands of dollars to watch the Super Bowl in person when they could watch it from the comfort of their living room. Why? We as a culture have decided the Super Bowl is a big deal, and people want to be a part of it, to witness it firsthand and to be a part of the energy and roar of the crowd.
Lots of people show up at Church for similar reasons. You can read your Bible at home or watch church services on TV, but there is something about learning and worshipping elbow to elbow, shoulder to shoulder with like-minded others. The book of Hebrews cautions us not to forsake gathering together for a reason. God created us social beings. We need one another in ways we don’t usually even recognize.
In the twelfth Chapter of his letter to the Romans, Paul points to God’s reason for giving people this need to be a part of something bigger. Often quoted out of context, when read together, these verses actually build his case:
“12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Paul is talking about being committed to something greater than yourself. Presenting our bodies as living sacrifices runs in direct conflict with the pattern of this world which is competition and self-promotion. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (What is God’s will? Paul is about to tell us…)
3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. 4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. Our minds are transformed as we embrace the upside-down Kingdom where the first become last and the shared goal is service for the benefit of others. In this context, to think more highly of ourselves than we should is to imagine ourselves to be self-sufficient. The truth Paul teaches us here is that no individual gets all the gifts. We are interdependent by design. We need each other. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your[a] faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead,[b] do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” (Bold text is my commentary.)
Not thinking more highly of ourselves than we should in this context just means knowing who God wants you to be in the Body of Christ (i.e., how he wants you to serve others). Conversely it means accepting who you are not, and not judging others because they lack your particular gift (when God has another plan for them entirely).
Here’s the take-away. None of us is all that on our own. But together, empowered by the Holy Spirit, we are the Body of Christ, and that’s pretty great!
For the Body of Christ to function as it should, each part is needed to join the others for the Glory of Jesus. As we press on to the finish line, picking one another up when we stumble, pushing and pulling one another along when we hesitate, cheering one another on when we grow weary, let’s fix our eyes on Him who called us to be a part of something—something greater than ourselves.