About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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Part 2

 

Relational and Functional Joints

 

In the early 1970ís some of us were influenced by a Bible teacher named Graham Pulkingham.  He taught extensively on ďcommunity" and how it relate to life in the church.  He said that church should be based around relationships between people, not around tasks the church organizes.    

 

North American church is very task and organizationally orientated.  We are encouraged to be committed to a particular church organization and participate in its programs that is supported, financed, and ordained by the church. 

 

Pulkingham said that our commitment is first to Jesus which finds expression in our commitment to one another.  Commitment as seen in New Testament terms is directed towards those people to whom Jesus has joined us.  As parts of the Body of Christ, we are joined to a few other individual parts  Ė bone to bone.  A bone in your finger is not joined to every other part of the body, but to another like bone in your finger.  The joint between these two bones places us in the body and forms the finger.  Membership in an organization does not make us part of the Body of Christ.  Through salvation we are placed into His body where Jesus then joins us with a few other body parts.  Thus our commitment is to the people Jesus has joined us to. These relationships are far more vital than any organization we might belong to.

 

It is important to strengthen the joints we have with one another so the joints wonít become arthritic.  This is what Pulkingham was getting at.  We need healthy relationships.  Only then can we have a healthy body. 

 

Things donít stop here.  As we care for our joints, care for our relationships, we should be doing something in the  service of the Lord with those we are joined to.  This is the nature of joints in a body.  Joints are functional.  They do something.  Joints have a purpose.  Joints don't just sit around and enjoy the scenery.

 

After we determine who we are joined with, we serve Jesus together. This is the task part of what Pulkingham was speaking about.  First comes the healthy relationships, then comes the tasks at hand.  The tasks donít come first.  

 

We canít stop at the relationship part.  We just canít have a fun time; watch movies and go bowling together.  We have things to do that will bring healthiness to the body. Together we have work to do in serving Jesus. 

 

In modern church life I believe we think in terms of organizational structure more than in terms of a body.  Organizationally speaking,  church isnít that much different than any service group.  Both have a board of directors who hire a few workers, who in turn find committed volunteers to help run the organization.  But, being joined to an organizational structure and the programs it supports is not New Testament thinking.  We are joined to people who in turn serve Jesus with us.  Remember, the church should be organic, not merely organizational.

 

So hereís the questions I think we should ask ourselves.  One, am I joined to an organization or to people?  Two, who has Jesus joined me with on a personal level?  Three, how healthy are those relationships?  Four, am I presently doing something in the service of Jesus with those to whom I'm joined? 

 

These questions are important because joints in the Body of Christ have two purposes.  They are both relational and functional.  That means we are joined together for mutual support and for ministry.  I think weíd do better by thinking in these terms rather than thinking in terms of being joined to an organization with its varying pre-existing programs. 

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