To write this article, my whole body has to cooperate. My eyes watch what appears on the computer screen; my brain thinks; my nervous system directs my fingers. My body, like yours, is an amazing example of harmony and cooperation.
The Bible uses this imagery to describe the global community of believers: "Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it" (1Corinthians 12:27). What does this tell us? That Christians are to be a body that functions in harmony.
Jesus never intended for us to live the Christian life on our own. He provided a faith community to help and support us as we learn how to live in harmony with others. Here are three concepts you can teach your family about the body of Christ:
Each part of the body is different. Each one of us has different passions, experiences, perspectives and spiritual gifts. Jesus didn't create a giant clique of people who look and talk and think the same. He created a vibrant community of individuals who express their faith in different ways.
All parts of the body need one another. Of course, where there are differences, there will also be conflict. Some people will irritate or offend us. But we need these people in our lives — not despite our differences, but because of them.
The apostle Paul expressed this idea in his letter to the church at Corinth: "The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!' " (1 Corinthians 12:21). It's important to remember that feet often stink. Although a head (particularly the nose) may be repulsed by feet, the head wouldn't go far without them, would it? That's the point: We need each other.
The body nurtures spiritual growth. Jesus desires for us to "reach unity in the faith "and" become mature" (Ephesians 4:13). Just as a child's maturity is nurtured within a family, spiritual maturity is cultivated in the body of Christ. Wisdom. Selflessness. Unity. Discernment. All of these and more are developed as we connect to the body of Christ.
The activities and discussions below are designed to help your family explore what it means to be part of this body.
- Every believer has a unique place in the body of Christ.
- We need other believers in our lives.
- Spiritual maturity is cultivated within the body of Christ.
Family Memory Verse
1 Corinthians 12:27
"Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it."
For a more in-depth study on the body of Christ, read these Bible passages:
1 Corinthians 12:12-27
Copyright © 2011 by Larry Fowler. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
Time With Your Teen
More Family Devotions
To help your child understand how the body of Christ works together, encourage her to play "Special Helper" with you.
The goal of the game is for your child to help you put on your jacket. Here’s the catch: You’ll illustrate the importance of cooperation by being uncooperative for a while. Keep the tone of the game lighthearted as you raise your arms or tuck them tightly to your sides.
While funny at first, your child will eventually express frustration. Use this opportunity to help her verbalize the need to work together to get the jacket on. Cooperate with her as she helps you complete the task.
Then, discuss how people who love God work together. At church, some play with the kids in child care; others lead the music or teach a lesson. All these people are a part of the body of Christ.
—Andrea Diener and Kayley Erlandson
Copyright © 2011 by Focus on the Family. ThrivingFamily.com.
Use this activity to illustrate our need for the body of Christ. Start by giving each child different handicaps. Blindfold one person, put thick mittens on another, and have another stay seated.
Now ask your kids to perform three tasks. Blindfolded Betty has to point out everything in the room that is blue, Mitten Matt must tie his shoes, and Seated Steven has to move across the room to turn on the TV. Have them wrestle with their tasks, telling them they can work together to find solutions.
Once they have cooperated to complete the tasks, discuss what made the challenges difficult. Point out that it was only possible to accomplish the tasks with the help of someone who was able.
In the same way, believers need one another. Each person is equipped to do certain tasks that benefit others. Use examples from your family or church to illustrate how different individuals have a variety of strengths. Some are good builders, teachers or cooks. When these individuals work together, the larger group thrives.
Copyright © 2011 by Becky Tidberg. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
To teach your tweens about what it means to be a part of the body of Christ, watch the credits for your favorite family movie. Have your kids try to count the number of people involved in making the film. Have your kids look up the job description for each of these roles: producer, cinematographer, stunt coordinator, gaffer, Foley artist, etc. Under your supervision, give them time to gather the information and share what they learned.
Ask your kids:
• What would a movie be like without a producer?
• What would happen if no one promoted the film?
• Would people go see a film that lacked music?
Making a movie involves lots of different skills from lots of different people working together to present a picture worth watching. The body of Christ works much the same way. As believers use their unique talents and spiritual gifts, they present a living, breathing "picture" of Christ.
Read 1 Corinthians 12:4-6. Explain to your kids that they have the opportunity to show Christ to the world through their actions and through the gifts God has given them.
Copyright © 2011 by Marcy Lytle. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
Time With Your Teen
As the father of five, I can honestly say there is nothing more gratifying than for a parent to see his kids connected to and serving in the body of Christ. Whether it's my 16-year-old playing his guitar for youth events or all my kids pitching in to help start a new church, it's amazing to watch as they begin to enjoy the community of this family.
The body of Christ is like a large extended family. We all need each other to help us mature in faith and character. Just as teens are maturing into adulthood physically, mentally and emotionally, they also need to mature spiritually. Do our teens understand that taking their place in the body of Christ will help nurture their spiritual growth? If they recognize the blessing of this community before they leave home, they will be more apt to draw from and rely on these relationships later in life.
One secret to helping our teens connect with the body of Christ includes encouraging them to find their significance, purpose and connection within this community of believers. Does your teen see himself as a valuable participant in the body? Help him evaluate the gifts and skills he may have that are waiting to be cultivated, then discuss ways he may be able to serve others with these gifts.
After talking about how your teen can contribute to the body of Christ, discuss what your teen can receive from the body. Encouragement, accountability and a sense of belonging are invaluable benefits. Your teen can grow to see the beauty of the body of Christ as he's convinced that this church family needs him — and he needs this family.
Copyright © 2011 by Ross Parsley. Used by permission. ThrivingFamily.com.
These articles appeared in the December 2011 issue of
Thriving Family magazine. Copyright © 2011 by Focus on the Family. ThrivingFamily.com.
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