No Shortcuts

I’ve managed to exercise two days in a row. To me, that feels worthy of a post.

I’m not an excellent steward of my body. It should matter more to me than it does. It’s the body God gave me. It’s a valuable gift and an extremely complex effort of God’s creative energy.

I don’t give it the attention it deserves because it’s not a priority to me. In my head, I justify that by listing my other priorities. I’m a husband, a father, a friend, a pastor… Who has the time? But I’m also an ice cream eater, a TV watcher, and a cat napper. I could probably spare a little more time than I want to admit.

Most of us aren’t the best stewards of our bodies. But that’s not what this article is about. My physical body is NOT the only body God gave me to steward. If our flesh and blood is of any importance to God, how much more important is the body of Christ?

The “body of Christ” was possibly the Apostle Paul’s favorite metaphor. He uses it to describe the church in at least four of his letters. Paul uses the metaphor to illustrate the unity, function, and growth of the church. In Ephesians 4, Paul uses the idea of body-building to carry the illustration further:

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Michael Jordan was famous for bringing the same energy to practice that he brought into a game. He explained his philosophy in four simple words: “There are no shortcuts.”

If you want a healthy body, then you must put in the work. If you want a healthy church, then you must put in the work.

I “get serious” about exercise half a dozen times every year, but I immediately look for shortcuts. Hey Google, show me workout plans I can do in five minutes. Hey Google, are there any workout plans I can do once a week? Hey Google, can I exercise and nap at the same time?

Many of us have the same approach with the church. What is the least amount of effort I can give to see results? But we are talking about something of great value to God! Jesus gave up His life for the Church we so easily neglect. She is a body of eternal significance to Him.

His workout plan is clear. It involves knowledge of God and sound doctrine. It involves regular exposure to means of grace (Word, sacraments, etc.). It requires every member of the body doing its part. It requires church leaders actively equipping every member for that work. And there are no shortcuts.

Most churches expend a tremendous amount of energy on the main event – Sunday worship. Of course, corporate worship is a vital and necessary experience for the body of Christ. But much of the loving and equipping required for church growth happens at other times.

If you are a professing Christian, then the most important body you have been given to steward in this life is the body of Christ. Commit to it. Care for it. There are no shortcuts.


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