March 24, 2020
Yesterday, we began to amplify the importance of community as it relates to the church, the body of Christ and, moreover, humankind. The words that our heavenly Father spoke over the first man, Adam, should not be lost upon us which the Genesis writer records on this wise: Then the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner (Gen. 2:1, NRSV). It was God’s original design that man be placed in community. He never intended for any us to live isolated within a vacuum. We were designed to be relational beings and I firmly believe that we will never reach the fulness of our potential without each other.
The principle presented in the preceding paragraph, though rooted in the Old Testament text, carries over into the New Testament church. Note again the words of the following text: Instead, by speaking the truth with love, let’s grow in every way into Christ, who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does its part (Eph. 4:15–16, CEB). It is in this passage that the apostle Paul vividly and succinctly describes the indispensability of each believer to the other. Believe it or not, we need each other and, based on this text, it is by divine design. God has placed us in community and connected us so closely to each other and to Him, that the only suitable metaphor to help our finite minds understand it is the human body. We are inextricably connected to each other. We are inextricably connected to Him. Hence, the impact or success of the church in carrying forth its mission in the earth is based upon how we, as members of the body, function in relationship with each other.
Today, amid this crisis centered around the coronavirus known as COVID-19, I believe that God is calling the church, indeed He has given the church the golden opportunity, to function at an optimal level. But the church’s optimization is dependent on how its members function relationally with one another. Paul stated above that the body builds itself up with love. This love must flow from member to member; but it cannot flow if we do not recognize that we are to be positioned relationally in community. There must be a connectedness which comprehends our compelling need for each other. When the members of the body of Christ do this, we will edify each other and serve as a witness to the world. Jesus said, This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other (John 13:35, CEB).
On a practical note, I challenge each of us today to practice community. Identify someone that you can contact and help in some tangible way. Reach out and check on someone you haven’t been in contact with for some time. How about repairing a relationship that has gone sour where forgiveness and restoration is needed? God is calling the church to its finest hour amid our current world crisis. Will you, as an individual, help the church to rise and answer the call?
Yours in His Service,
Bishop Lambert W. Gates, Sr.