In the human body there are many parts and organs, each with a unique function. And so it is in the body of Christ. For though we are many, we’ve all been mingled into one body in Christ. This means that we are all vitally joined together to one another, with each contributing to the others. God’s marvellous grace imparts to each one of us varying gifts and ministries that are uniquely ours. So if God has given you the grace-gift of prophecy, you must activate your gift by using the proportion of faith you have to prophecy. If your grace-gift is serving, then thrive in serving others well. If you have the grace-gift of teaching, then be actively teaching and training others. If you have the grace-gift of encouragement, then use it often to encourage others. If you have the grace-gift of giving to meet the needs of others, then may you prosper in your generosity without any fanfare. If you have the gift of leadership, be passionate about your leadership. And if you have the gift of showing compassion, then flourish in your cheerful display of compassion. Romans 12: 4 – 8 TPT
It was very early on a Sunday morning, as I was sitting in the dark listening to the city come alive, that the Holy Spirit reminded me of an inner vision I had during a prayer meeting some years ago, while we still lived in New Zealand. This time, however, I saw an “expanded” version of the same picture.
In my minds’ eye, I saw a huge castle…a fortress of sorts. Battle-weary soldiers were filing into the fortress, their armour in serious need of repair, many with wounds that needed tending. Once inside they were quickly assessed and send off to receive the necessary treatment. Doctors and nurses were standing by to bathe and dress the wounded, there were many servants tending tables, ready with a drink and a meal and blacksmiths were working hard and fast to repair armour and forge swords. Officers were having meetings, revealing strategies for battle, issuing new orders and there were people rallying the troops, reminding them what they were fighting for, stirring their hearts with passion to go back out and fight another day. Generals were checking every soldier over to make sure they were well armed, healthy, rested and battle-ready, before sending them out to fight again.
What I saw is a picture of the church, as the Lord intended for it to operate, where every member of the church is actively involved in the fight. The doctors, nurses and servants tending the wounded and the tables are the pastors who feed the army on the Word, who dress the wounds of battle and who treat the disease before it spreads through the camp. It is said that an army marches on its stomach – it is no different in the Lord’s army, we are what we eat and it is the responsibility of the pastors to feed the soldiers fresh bread, to deal with soul wounds and to model servant leadership.
The blacksmiths are a picture of the teachers. They have the responsibility to make sure the soldiers are well-armed and equipped to teach. There are many battles to be fought – sometimes the battle is against ignorance and misinformation and every soldier is supposed to be a teacher in their circle of influence.
The officers I saw represent the prophets and the evangelists. The prophets gives direction and encouragement, the evangelists keeps the focus on the task at hand…reaching the lost and fulfilling the great commandment to make disciples of all men. Lastly, the generals are a picture of the apostles, overseeing and direct operations, strategizing, organising and unifying the army.
You can read this and be quite justified in criticizing the Church, the pastors, teachers, evangelists, prophets and apostles for not measuring up or you can allow hope to arise in your heart, for did Jesus not say that He will build the Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it? (Matt 16:18) Jesus is the Commander of this army and the Holy Spirit is actively working on building the Church to everything that God purposed it to be. Our role in all of this is to come into agreement with the Lord and with each other.
How I pray that today, as you read this, you would no longer see yourself as insignificant, but as a vital, necessary part of the Lord’s plan, whether you are called to minister to the army or be in the trenches, fighting the battles as they present themselves. I pray that you will allow yourself to be knitted together with the body, that you would recognise that you are needed. You may be small and your contribution to the body might not make the evening news, but do it to the best of your ability. If you enjoy giving but can only give a little, give it anyway. If you are an encourager, send that email. As you serve, remember that you are serving Jesus.