When your left elbow itches, what happens? First, the elbow sends a message to your brain that it needs help. Then, your brain receives that intel and interprets it, “Left elbow itches.” Finally, your brain sends a magical power zap directly to the elbow to remedy it.
Wait, no? That’s not how it works?
Ah, that’s right. Your brain sends a message to your right hand to scratch the itch, caring for the elbow.
Expecting our brain to magically cure our elbow itch (without the rest of the body) sounds a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it? But far too many of us tend to do this with the body of Christ. When we pray about a need in our lives, God doesn’t usually zap power directly down from heaven to fix it (though he certainly can). No, the usual way he meets our needs is by moving a member of his body to do the work, through the means of a spiritual gift. We, the members of Christ’s body, are literally his hands and feet.
You pray, “God, I need direction in my life.” God says, “Ah, that wisdom you’re looking for comes from the Spirit, and that Spirit speaks through members of my body.”
You pray, “God, I need help in my marriage.” He says, “I’ve put the resources to heal your marriage into members of my body.”
You pray, “God, I’m lonely. I’m confused,” and God says, “I’ve put all my help for all these things into members of my body.”
If you want God to work in your life, you have to be part of the church. And when you disconnect yourself from the church, you disconnect yourself from the power of God. How tragic is it to ask God to work in your life while you distance yourself from the portal of his power!
In other words, don’t be a ninja Christian. Sure, ninjas are cool, but they make bad church members. Every pastor knows what I’m talking about here. This is the church member who slips in silently, unnoticed, sitting on the aisle, ready to make their escape as soon as the closing prayer comes. This is the church member who remains unknown to others, not involved in the life of the church.
This is, in other words, a left elbow that thinks it can get along in life without the rest of the body.
The whole point of being part of a church is knowing and being known by others. We should be so involved in each other’s lives that God uses you in the lives of your brothers and sisters and he uses them in yours. Is it uncomfortable sometimes? A little difficult (okay, more than a little)? Absolutely.
But is it worth it? One hundred percent, yes.