In this rubric we try to include articles that give instruction and some demonstration of the life of the church. Hoeksema writes in Reformed Dogmatics concerning the church, “the church, according to the teaching of Scripture, is a living spiritual organism, of which Christ is the head, and all His people are members” (p. 573). Do you experience the church as a living spiritual organism? The Lord has given to me and my family a blessed opportunity to experience the life of the church especially in the past couple of years. It is my hope and prayer that you might be encouraged and rejoice with us in God’s faithfulness.
Two years ago, after teaching grades 1-4 at Faith Christian School in Randolph, my wife and I decided it would be best if I took some time off from teaching to complete my teacher certification. After searching for a college that would best suit my needs, I decided to attend the University of Wisconsin in Whitewater. It looked as though I could complete the required studies in one year including two summers of study. Faith Christian School granted me a leave of absence for one year and we calculated that we would be able to get through most of that year with the little amount of money we had in savings and a part time job. Since Whitewater was a 1½ hour drive away, we thought it best that we move into an apartment with our 1 year old daughter.
The carefully thought out plans were not the Lord’s plan, however. Between school and a decent part-time job, we figured that I would not have much time to spend with my family or to continue my work on Beacon Lights. The Lord did give me a part time job, a better job in fact than I had hoped for, one that provided me the opportunity to work close to home and to set my own hours. This arrangement gave me the necessary time to spend with my family and continue my work on Beacon Lights. The Lord also supplied a family to rent our home while we were out and help cover the mortgage payments. It appeared as though we would do just fine on our own until it became clear that it would take more than one year for me to complete my studies. A few months before moving the Lord added a second child to our family, and a third during the course of my studies. Then our vehicle went bad and we needed a new van. And finally I would have to give up my job when it came time for student teaching. We also began to feel the spiritual loneliness of living some distance away from our family and church.
Having stripped us of our own plans and ideas, God began to show to us more clearly than ever before what it means to live as a member of Christ’s body. Our family was willing to help out as much as they could with our financial needs. The Lord also worked in the hearts of others to send us unexpected gifts and words of encouragement at the most appropriate times. The deacons also cheerfully came to visit us to let us know that the church was there to help us not only with our financial needs but more importantly to give us spiritual encouragement. They also ministered to us the importance of maintaining a godly marriage in a time of financial difficulty. It was a humbling experience, but we never had to worry that the needs of our growing family would not be met.
The young people of the church were also willing to live the life of the body of Christ. Some were able and willing give of their time and energy in the way of helping us move. Others offered to baby-sit for free. Others members of the church were willing to come visit us even though it was a long drive, offer up prayers on our behalf, and were quick to give us a word of encouragement and support. We are very grateful for the help they gave to us and we want to encourage our young readers to be attentive to the needs of others.
We have grown much during this experience. We have been shown that financial concerns are not to be a deciding factor when following God’s will for our lives. We have been shown that there are many ways to give support other than the giving of money. We have also seen how pride can threaten God’s giving of his blessings to His people. We should not be too proud to let our family, friends, and church members see that we have spiritual needs that need to be met. We must not be too proud to let the church do its work of giving comfort in our times of need and if necessary, give financial support.
I have illustrated some of the ways we have experienced the life of the body of Christ. Without this life, the church is dead. It springs from the life of Christ and it must be made known through our actions. There are a number of places in God’s word where we are given instruction concerning our role in the church. One passage is Romans 12:4-13 where we read “For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.”
Now the time has come for us to move back into our home in Randolph where I intend, the Lord willing, to take up my teaching job at Faith Christian. As I finish up this article amid moving boxes and all the hassles of moving, I am inclined to think, “is this all worth it just to get a teaching certificate and teach in our Christian schools? Would not these years of study and uprooting of the family be made more worthwhile if I pursued a job with more clout and pay?” When I reflect on the life of Christ found in his body, the church, I can testify that the spiritual rewards of living within the sphere of a church are far greater than any earthly treasure. May we all pray for the grace to live humbly as servants of God and as active members of Christ’s body, sensitive to the needs of every other member.