Some Assembly Required
Yesterday I wrote on teamwork, but if you read the article you know that was just a different way of saying that everyone needs to be a part of a community of faith. Everyone needs to be part of a church, and part of the Church. Expanding on that thought consider Hebrews 10:24-25, which instructs us to spur one another to love and good deeds, “not forsaking our assembling together.”
There are two things that strike me about that passage. First, it is interesting that I need the church in order to be spurred on to good deeds. I can see that I need encouragement, support, accountability, fellowship, and many things. But can’t I figure out how to do good deeds on my own?
One of the reasons that I need to be a part of a church in order to do good deeds is that I cannot objectively see which good deeds I am gifted to accomplish. When a person stops to consider his or her gifts, strengths and weaknesses he or she often turns inwardly to do a sort of self-inventory. This certainly can be helpful, and self awareness in that area is an important attribute. However, it should be pointed out that one important aspect of identifying and prioritizing gifts in an individual is by paying attention to feedback from others.
As individuals we have a tendency to get lost in certain ideas about our gifts that may not be accurate. When speaking of gifts in Romans 12 the Apostle Paul instructs every one of his readers to “not think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly” (12:3). The word soberly means to see something rightly or accurately, to see it the way it really is.
Because of the tendency to get a distorted view of ourselves it is important for us to listen to the feedback that we get from the body on our gifts. As we pay attention to this we begin to sense which of our gifts are being called upon by those around us. In this way the body of Christ calls forth the right gifts at the right time from each of us. I may have rightly discerned several personal strengths that I possess. However, it is often the feedback from the body of Christ that will let me know which gifts are being summoned at that time.
Second, I find the words our assembling together interesting. In English the word assembling has two different ideas to it. It can simply mean to gather together, and it is that sense that we typically understand Hebrews 10:25. But it can also mean something else. It can refer to a more diligent and intentional process. You know, that process of taking a thousand little pieces and putting them together in a slow deliberate way until a finished product emerges. It takes patience. It takes understanding, too. One must know where to start, what order to proceed, which parts fit into other parts, etc. If you have ever assembled a piece of cheap furniture that comes in a compact box you know this process all too well. It can be a frustrating process (just ask my therapist). You also know this, every single piece that comes in that box is necessary if that piece of furniture is going to become what it is designed to be.
Likewise, building the church can be a frustrating process. It requires patience. It requires knowledge and understanding, insight into which parts go with other parts. An understanding of where to start and how to proceed. Most importantly, if it is going to become what it is designed to be every part must be used. Sure, some assembly is required, and that is not always our favorite part. But the finished product is nothing less than the glorious, unblemished bride of Jesus Christ. So, let me say it again. You need the church, and the church needs you!