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Transforming Grace – The Body of Christ

The goal of my writing today is to inspire you to access the powerful transforming grace God has made available to us through His Body, the Church.

In this series of articles, we are recognizing one fundamental truth regarding transformational grace: God provides the grace, but we must access it. Doing so requires discipline. We access saving grace simply through faith. Transforming grace is different. It requires more of us—we must do something to experience its power.

To illustrate the transformational graces accessed through the Body, Jesus uses the metaphor of a grapevine, and Paul uses the metaphor of the body. What they say is powerful, so I’ll let them speak for themselves:

The Vine— Excerpts from John 15:1-8

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful … Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
The Body — Excerpts from I Corinthians 12:12-27

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body … Even so, the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body . . . But in fact, God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be … As it is, there are many parts, but one body … Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

The point is this: you need the body, and the body needs you. The branch cannot survive without the vine, and the vine cannot be fruitful without the branch. The hand needs the foot as much as the foot needs the hand. We are all necessary to each other and to the mission of God.

Over the years, I have heard plenty of believers say that they don’t need the church to follow Jesus. Well, according to Jesus and Paul, they are wrong. We do need the church — and the church needs us. It is His Body, and like it or not, that’s the way God made it. If you have a problem with that, you can take it up with Him.

Listen, I understand why some believers disconnect from the church. Heaven knows I’ve been tempted to do so many times. Some church people can be downright mean and ugly. There aren’t many of them, but they get a lot of attention because they make a lot of noise and create a lot of pain.

But I must tell you, the vast majority of church people are just plain awesome. They are loving and kind and filled with compassion, mercy, and grace. They give of themselves in such beautiful ways. One of the greatest honors of my life has been to serve alongside church people. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without them.

So yes, church can be messy sometimes, but more often than not, it is amazing and transformational. Through the body of Christ, my life has been richly blessed — and maybe — in some small way — my life has blessed others.

How about you? So many people have disconnected from the church since Covid. Or maybe it was something else that caused you to stop attending. Whatever the reason, it’s time to come home. The body needs you — and you need the body. Without it, you are missing out on important aspects of God’s transformational grace.

I pray God’s grace will help you to overcome whatever obstacle has kept you away. The best thing to do is just show up. Trust me, reconnecting to the body will bring new life into your bones — and your presence will make a difference for others.