In the beginning God created male and female in His image. He walked with them in the garden and enjoyed fellowship with them. And then sin came into the world…. And Enoch walked with God and he was no more because God took him. God came to Noah and told him to build a ship because a flood was coming, and the earth was going to be destroyed. God came to Abraham and told him to leave where he lived and go where God told him to go. Jacob wrestled with God and refused to give up until God blessed him. God caused Joseph to be taken into Egypt so that all his family could be provided for during the coming famine. God appeared to Moses in a burning bush and told him to go to Egypt to bring his people out of Egypt. And God called…. Joshua, Samuel, David, Jeremiah, and so many more. He called John the Baptist. He called Mary. Jesus came and called His twelve. He met Paul on the road to Damascus. We read through Paul’s letters of the various individuals he encountered as he went to the different churches across the land. We read of Stephen, Aquilla and Priscilla, Euodia and Syntyche, Clement, Timothy, Onesimus, Philemon, and so many more who led and worked with leaders in churches as they were being established. And God has continued to work through individuals throughout more recent history.
I think several truths are apparent here:
- Individuals are important to God. He knit together each individual in their mother’s womb. He calls us each to come back to Him through the blood of Jesus Christ. He is at work in each of our individual lives to recreate us again into His image.
- Individuals live in fullness when they live in relationship to God. He made each of us to be unique in what we bring to the world. He gifts and equips each of us through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit when we enter God’s kingdom.
- Individuals have importance in and of themselves. Yet individuals cannot live in isolation. They must be in relationship in two ways: they must be in relationship to God, their creator, and they are made to live in community with others. Think back to those individuals that God called. Most often He called individuals to go and do something that contributed to the good of others.
God has called us individually, and He has called us to be a part of His Body – the Church. We do not cease to be individuals as we are knit together as the Church. Rather, as each of us expresses our uniqueness and our gifts, the entire Body magnifies the glory of God to their immediate community and to the world.
I have a picture as to how this should work: Think of an orchestra. Each individual in the orchestra is accomplished and proficient in their particular instrument, yet they come together under a conductor to perform magnificent beauty as they perform together.
I think of our own church body. I am so blessed as I think back over these last months. I have witnessed masks being made for our local church body and as a service to our local community. I’ve also witnessed masks being made for sale as a benefit to a community across the world in Africa. I recently watched individuals put together activity kits to distribute to special needs families. I’ve watched backpacks being distributed to a school, Christian books being donated to prisons, collection of boxes to go to Samaritan’s Purse and its ministry throughout the world.
I think about the individuals who work in the background behind these endeavors. Someone had an idea. Someone had to do research to understand how to bring an idea to fruition. Someone had to gather others to work with them. And others had to come together to bring resources so that a goal gets accomplished.
Sometimes it’s not so easy to individually do something that we really have a heart to do. Illness or other barriers keep us from our heart’s desires. Sometimes we need our brothers and sisters to help us. We know of a dear couple in our church who has an extra house, but it is disrepair. It is their hearts’ desire to renovate the house so that it can be available to missionaries on furlough or others who have need of a short-term home. Due to the death of a parent, time spent in settling his affairs including his business, a cancer diagnosis, extended treatments for cancer, the house sits in disrepair with no progress on its restoration. We also know of a missionary family on furlough who needs a home in the area. What could God have in store? I’m wondering if there are other individuals in our church who have skills to come together to bring blessing all around. Think again of that orchestra!
Brothers and sisters, as I think back to Sunday and the recount of the multitude of ways that God has blessed us during our 50 years of existence, I am greatly encouraged and I am greatly challenged to who and what we can become as we together are committed to carry and share and live out the flourishing that God has called us to – to show Him to a dark world.