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No Member of the Church Is Dispensable

Posted January 17, 2024
Church

Did you know that each member of the church is vitally important for the church’s corporate health? When the New Testament talks about an individual Christian’s participation in the church, it treats that participation as something necessary for the structural soundness of the kingdom God is building on earth. Two metaphors bring this out in the Scriptures: the metaphor of the church as a new temple, and the church as Christ’s body.

If you were going to build a temple for God, what kind of materials might you use? Of course, if we had unlimited resources we might create something similar to Solomon’s temple, bathed in gold and littered with precious stones, a work of master artistry.

Right now Jesus is building God’s temple on earth, and the materials he has chosen to use might come as a surprise to you. He’s not building with golden bricks or precious diamonds, Jesus’ temple-on-earth is being constructed with very ordinary looking living stones. Peter said, “As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:4-5).

Stop and think about this for a moment. Christ is building a glorious temple on earth right now, and you’re one of the bricks that helps to make the building stand out. This highlights the importance of being connected to the corporate church. Individually, you are just one stone, a part of something much larger. Imagine a house that had a strong foundation but was missing some of the walls. Would anyone want to live there? The temple is God’s house, where he chooses to live, and together individual Christians make up the bricks of the edifice. It’s only together that the building begins to take shape!

You aren’t just a brick, but you’re also a body part. After making the point that the one body has many different parts (hands, ears, eyes, etc.), each of which plays a very important role, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12:21-26:

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

No member of the church is dispensable because each of us have been gifted by God in unique and complimentary ways in order to encourage and build up our family in Christ. A person who wants to serve Jesus while separated from the local church will be as effective as a severed hand or runaway foot! God has placed you in his body as an integral part with a special function.

This point is so important that it’s repeated again in the New Testament. Paul said, “Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love” (Eph. 4:15-16).

Every brick in Jesus’ temple is important; each part is integral to the whole!

Photo of Adriel Sanchez
Adriel Sanchez

Adriel Sanchez is pastor of North Park Presbyterian Church, a congregation in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). In addition to his pastoral responsibilities, he also serves the broader church as a host on the Core Christianity radio program, a live, daily call-in talk show where he answers listeners' questions about the Bible and the Christian faith. He and his wife Ysabel live in San Diego with their five children.