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Essentials for Local Church Harmony 5: Fulfill Your Role 

Essentials for Local Church Harmony Day 5: Fulfill Your Role 

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:27,  ESV)

I’m a sucker for a good sports movie. And while not fanatically patriotic, a sports movie that is also patriotic is probably going to draw my eyeballs. Therefore, Disney’s “Miracle” is right up my alley. It’s about the Miracle on Ice at the Lake Placid, NY,  Winter Olympics in 1980. Complete with actual footage of Al Michaels’ famous quote, “Do you believe in miracles?” we are treated to a dramatization of the USA taking down the seemingly untouchable Soviet hockey team. I love the story, the chants of “U-S-A,” and all the drama. Kurt Russell plays the role of US coach Herb Brooks, and I love the calming phrase he yells to his team who is deep into the 3rd period holding on to a surprising lead: “Play your game! Play your game!” The meaning? As a team, play the US game plan, not the Soviet game plan. To do that, it must be accomplished by each player. Individually, play your role. Don’t try to play left wing if you’re a defenseman. Having five centers, no defensemen, and no goalies would be disastrous! Fulfill the role you were assigned to play.     

When Paul wrote his first letter to the church in Corinth, his comparing the local church to a physical body was, of course, brilliant. The comparison is very easy to understand. We are all “individually members” of the local church body. All throughout chapter 12, Paul illustrates the various parts of the human body and how they have different uses—and they must all do what they were made to do. The eye can’t taste; the nose can’t listen; the parts can’t vote a part out. “We don’t need the left thumb anymore, so we’re going to vote it out of the body!” For the human body to function correctly, each part must work in harmony and fulfill the role it was created to fulfill. Makes sense, right? Paul correlates that to the local church. Each person has a role to fulfill and needs to fulfill it to maximize the harmony and usefulness of that church.

So, then, what is my role? It’s a question people need to ask of themselves. What spiritual gifts has God given me? What role does He want me to fulfill in the local church? It could be a number of things: a teacher, a helper, an encourager, an evangelist, hospitable. But the key thing to remember is that it is your role to fulfill. If God has gifted you with a spiritual ability, it would be a shame to waste it by doing nothing for the church. And yet, doesn’t that happen all the time? People spend the requisite time on Sunday (and maybe even midweek service) attending but add nothing except an extra 98.6 degrees. 

It’s a twofold tragedy. First, that person is missing out on all they could be. We will never fulfill our maximum potential unless we fulfill the spiritual role God wants us to fulfill. We can be successful, wealthy, attractive, and popular while living a wasted life. Tough, but true. What a tragedy to live an unfilled (and unfulfilling) life! Use what God has given you. And the second tragedy? If I don’t do it, then God could very well use someone else. It doesn’t have to be that way! Our individual churches could be that well-oiled machine, where everyone is doing exactly what they need to be doing. And don’t be surprised if your role changes, by the way. As we age, our roles can easily evolve from mentee to mentor. 

In our local churches, we need each other. We need to encourage each other to fulfill those roles, because if everyone is doing what God wants them to do, the church will thrive. It doesn’t mean there won’t be any troubles—far from it, in fact (which we’ll mention tomorrow). Working together for the Lord and fulfilling our roles is ultimately an intensely satisfying endeavor. It promotes harmony, unity, and security. It’s something we can all contribute to. Of course, we can be sideliners if we so choose, but we’ll miss out on what could (and should) be a life-altering experience. Please—fulfill your role and use your gifts.

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