Citrusdal | Clanwilliam | Graafwater | Kompas Gemeente Vredendal | Somerset-Wes

Do you ever find yourself struggling to find the right tool for a specific task? It’s like searching for a number-10 spanner and ending up using a pair of pliers instead! Similarly, the church sometimes tries to adopt a one-size-fits-all approach, but witnessing a professional at work is truly awe-inspiring—they work effortlessly and swiftly, utilizing the perfect tools for the job!

This scenario emphasizes the concept of “agency”: God created the world as a diverse community of species, each with its own unique purpose. Whether it’s predators, insects, birds, reptiles, or even pesky mosquitoes, they all serve a specific role.

A Tapestry of Unique Diversities

As we progress in our journey to become more like Christ, our individual callings, identities, and purposes become clearer. We are all fashioned with different personalities, temperaments, talents, and abilities. Together, we complement one another, forming what Apostle André (Harvester’s Founder) aptly describes as “God’s Genius.”

The functions and expressions of the church also possess their unique purposes. Each of the five-fold gifts—apostle, prophet, evangelist, teacher, and pastor—has a distinct passion for different aspects of our spiritual development. Believers thrive spiritually when they are mentored and exposed to these invaluable gifts: the apostle assists in discovering one’s mission; the prophet guides and urges listening to God’s heart; the evangelist encourages bringing others to Christ; the teacher instructs in understanding God’s Word and ways; and the pastor fosters love and care for one another. Engaging in these fivefold spiritual practices allows us to grow, mature, and become more resilient in the face of life’s challenges.

Discovering Our Purpose

The story of Martha and Mary is not a comparison of virtuous work versus the importance of prayerful intimacy with God. In Luke 10:41, Jesus says to Martha, “You are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” It was a matter of timing and agency. Mary chose the better part because Jesus was teaching, and it wasn’t the time for food preparation. Once Jesus had finished teaching, everyone could have joined in preparing and enjoying a delicious meal together.

Furthermore, this story highlights personal agency. Traditionally, women were not expected to be disciples of a Rabbi. “Sitting at a Rabbi’s feet” was an ancient idiom for being a devoted disciple. Mary intended to defy societal norms. But how could a woman become a Rabbi? According to cultural expectations, women were tasked with domestic responsibilities. Jesus’ words, “Mary has chosen that good part (Greek Meris – share), which will not be taken away from her,” affirm this interpretation. She chose to be His disciple and devotee, and no one could take that role away from her.

Likewise, we should know our calling, our part, our share, our place, and our mandate in life. (2 Pet 1:10). Once we understand God’s purpose and design for our lives, we no longer need to compete with others. A healthy ecosystem of believers resembles a cosmos of provision and support, where everyone functions in their unique agency. Envision a close-knit family of Christ-centered lawyers, doctors, nurses, teachers, engineers, farmers, artists, artisans, counselors, law enforcers, philanthropists, or architects! It can become a powerful combination of resources, provision, and wisdom.

Recognizing the Bigger Picture

While we all require continuous love and special care, relying solely on one person or family can lead to disappointment. Yes, it’s true! Remember, even our closest loved ones can transition from the temporal to the eternal at any moment. Our loved ones are precious gifts from God because we know them and are familiar with them. However, the Holy Spirit wants us to also acknowledge the unknown greater Body of Christ that is always present.

That is why it is vital to belong to and commit to a local church whilst continuously make new friends, as we never know how God may use them or us when the need arises. This is the essence of the story of the good Samaritan. He was simply a friend, a committed neighbor who helped a person (Jew) in need (Luk 10:25-35).

I believe that all our emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical, vocational, and social needs can be met within the local body of Christ!

The Essence of Health

In the spiritual realm, the church is likened to the human physical body, highlighting its interconnectedness and dependence on each member. When assessing the health of a church, we should not focus on age or size. An elephant can never become a mouse, as each possesses unique advantages and liabilities due to its size. A mouse can never grow as big as an elephant. Every church is limited to its original creational purpose and mandate. We cannot be everything to everyone and end up being nothing to no one. Understanding our purpose and remaining true to it enables us to fulfill and FINISH our calling, just as Jesus, Paul, and David did.

Irrespective of whether a church is old or new, small or large, what truly matters is its ability to maintain a healthy symbiosis of holy relationships. As the Apostle Paul emphasizes in 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, the church comprises of various parts, each contributing to the whole. The unity and collective strength of these parts, not their external characteristics, determine the church’s health and effectiveness. Those who depart and establish new churches in anger and offense due to apparent problems will inevitably encounter similar issues within their own structures.

Combatting Spiritual Viruses

To remain a healthy church, it is crucial to recognize and address the spiritual viruses and parasites that can infiltrate and weaken it. Sins such as division, rebellion, arrogance, lovelessness, pride, apathy, doctrinal error, lukewarmness, and dead works are among the spiritual afflictions that hinder the church from fulfilling its purpose.

Thankfully, healthy churches possess the inherent ability to heal themselves through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. By continuously seeking His guidance and adhering to His teachings, the body of Christ can confront and overcome the spiritual diseases that threaten its well-being. Healing and restoration take place through the continual transformative work of the Holy Spirit.

It is essential to remain committed and work towards healing for all, even when a church is visibly affected by a disease. Each individual has a vital role as a vessel of healing and restoration within the body of Christ. You get two kinds of people, those who bring healing and those who make everything toxic. Galatians 6:9 encourages believers not to “grow weary in doing good”, promising that perseverance will yield a harvest. By standing firm in the face of challenges and actively participating in the healing process, we contribute to the overall well-being of God’s genius—the church.

Tragically, it is also true that any ecosystem can become so severely afflicted that recovery becomes unattainable, leading to its demise. Some viruses are as lethal as cancer, necessitating significant intervention for survival. Sins like arrogance, pride, division, and rebellion can utterly destroy a church organization or family if not addressed adequately.

Acknowledging the Different Agencies

The church should also learn to understand the power of agency in the marketplace, government, and society at large. Within a community, various structures function in diverse ways. I often observe believers attempting to be a voice in the wilderness, disconnected from society, instead of being salt and light within society.

Envision how a community can become God’s Delight as the TRUE CHURCH begins to influence and reform every aspect of society, starting with the pillars of government, law and order, health, education, and business, and extending to the glue of society—creative industries, sports, and recreation.

Sometimes, due to our lack of understanding of agency, its culture, and its protocols, we can either become distant couch-sitting critics or unwittingly participate in a manner similar to someone attempting to play cricket with rugby rules and gear. Our ignorance of how agency operates within different contexts can lead to misunderstandings, miscommunication, and ineffective engagement. Just as a skilled player knows the rules, strategies, and appropriate gear for each sport, we need to familiarize ourselves with the unique dynamics and expectations of different agencies.

Call to Action

Rather than complaining about the government, one can choose to represent an agency on a Ward Council or take on the role of a Ward Counsellor. Instead of criticizing the teachers at your child’s school, it is more productive to become actively involved and serve on the management committee. Instead of pointing fingers at the church, one can either plant a new one or seek to be added to a church where they can serve and have a positive influence.

By embracing agency and understanding our unique roles within the church community, we foster collective growth and strengthen the body.

Let us meditate and reflect prayerfully on this important verse in Ephesians 4:16, “From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”

A healthy, radiant church becomes a marvelous testament to the manifold wisdom of God in the spiritual realm.