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Serving In The Body of Jesus Christ Image

Serving in the Body of Jesus Christ

 Contributed by Fred Shelton

This week as I am contemplating the riches of God’s amazing grace that I enjoy here in America this day, I am quickly reminded that many believers around the world do not enjoy the blessings of freedom as I have known my entire life. As one who is called to be a voice for the persecuted church of the world, I must remind myself and others that great sacrifices must be made if Christ is to be worshipped in these lands of forbidden public worship. I have a worship center that I attend on Sunday and Wednesday. I greet my brothers and sisters publicly with a “Praise the Lord” or “God bless you my brother”. We lift our voices in great praise to our God. We bow before HIM in prayer. We worship our God by celebrating the opportunity to give of our financial blessings. Freedom to practice our faith, is still a most precious asset Americans are privileged to enjoy. We do not whisper our hymns, we shout them with a joyful noise to the LORD. Our church has a bank account where monies are set in reserve to minister to the needs of the body of Christ. We declare our faith on the job, in the market-places, in our homes, and neighborhoods. Jesus Christ is the source of all true freedom and blessing we enjoy as a nation born and sustained by the grace of God.

But then, we think of those who are called to walk the narrow path of righteousness declared from the very lips of our Lord and Master. “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12) Every believer is called to follow Christ and if that following leads to persecution for living out our faith then this is the LORD’s will. If our calling is to learn the worth of humility, maintain a proper attitude toward sin, allow God to break us of selfishness and pride thus freeing us by the grace of God to hunger and thirst for HIM and HIS truth, then we will rejoice in this as well. But included in that walk is a Christian responsibility to pray and to give to those who are in need.  

The church of Laodicea was rich and increased with goods. Their vision was limited, and they did not see as God longed for them to see. It would do the persecuted well to pray for the church in America and the Free Church around the world to follow the instructions of Jesus. “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” (Revelation 3:18) This church was poor, blind and naked, but they did not see it. They did not understand their spiritual condition before God. In their mind, they were rich and increased with goods. They were blinded by their real condition. God must intervene. God must show them to trust HIM as HE takes them through the fiery trials that will allow them to see as their true spiritual state is revealed to them. The need to be clothed with HIS righteousness, and enjoy the riches of HIS amazing grace must awaken the church in America. These are needs the UNPERSECUTED CHURCH HAVE BECOME COMPLACENT TO ACCEPTING AS NORMAL. Who will pray for them? It is not normal to lack zeal and passion for Christ and HIS Church. It is not normal to fail to pray for members of the body who are being destroyed by their selfishness and pride. Or, to fail to pray and to give to those whose sacrificial faith has brought them to various trials and tribulations.

“And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:  37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; 38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. 39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: 40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”  (Hebrews 11:36-40)

The Lord Jesus Christ is the great High Priest of the Old and New Testament saints. The Old Testament saints endured their trials and tribulations not having received the promise of the finished work of Jesus Christ. HE was promised and HE would come and FINISH THE WORK OF REDEMPTION! But until then, they endured only as being obedient to the Word of God and having hope of the coming of their Messiah. We too fight the good fight of the faith whether persecuted or free. The apostle Paul gave us this testimony and this example to follow. “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  (Philippians 4:11-13) 

We have trials of plenty and trials of lack. We too, share the hope of HIS coming, but now it is the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ that we long for. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.  3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.” (1John 3:2-3)  So here is the application for our thoughts today. If you live in freedom and are privileged to worship God in Spirit and in Truth with no restrictions or persecutions, then worship HIM all the more. But purpose in your heart to learn of those who are around the world and are in need. Need of Salvation, in need of grace and faith, in need of hope and financial support. Pray that the God of all mercies would send the Holy Spirit to address their spiritual needs according to the exceeding riches of HIS grace. If you are a Christian who is persecuted for their faith, pray for your faith to increase, but also pray for those of us in America who see ourselves as rich and increased with goods, but in reality, we are poor, wretched, and blind. 

These are prayers that God will answer for they are a part of HIS expressed will. 

When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:38-40) 

Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)  

As the body of Christ, we are called by God to love and to serve one another, what is your part in the body of Jesus Christ?