Centered in Christ
As Many Parts Of One Body | by Joseph Mathews
Joseph wrote in to say, "I had to lead a Bible study on UNITY for the youth at my church so I used
the Body of Christ game
. But I included a twist to the game to make the point that you can have unity, but if you are not centered in Christ then it is not fruitful." In Gen11:4, They said, “Now let us build a city with a tower that reaches the sky, so that we can make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over all the earth”
We see the story of the Tower of Babel. There was unity alright, but since the end aim of that was self glorification God did not allow it to be fruitful. Hence what I did with the Body of Christ game was to have a person in the center of the circle. All the members of the circle held hands and faced outside so no one could see the center and definitely not everyone could see the end of the race. What I did at the end of the race was that I had people tell me what they could relate this to in their life. Most of them could figure out that the center was Jesus and that even though they could not see Him, he was very much there and by listening to Him they were able to work more efficiently as a group and he guides everyone so that they could win. A lot of other concepts that came up were that no one could see the end of life and only the one in the middle could see the end .
Three parts to this topic.
I) Play the game: Body of Christ
II) Players discuss the difficulties they faced in getting from point A to point B? What could be the essence of the game? What is essential for the team to win? (Unity, listening to the one in the center though you cannot physically see him because everyone is facing outward.)
III) Introduction to the discussion and the topic. I am passing around this 'Promise Box' as I call it, with cards and verses from the Bible (see below) that are associated with the theme, UNITY. All of you can pick up one verse and give your comments regarding it. We can all share our views on each verse if we want.
Optional enrichment idea: to make friends or to strengthen the existent bonds of friendship:
IV) I want all of you to go around in a circle and meet everyone in the group and tell them at least one thing you admire about them. If you are seeing each other for the first time just get to know each other. When we are parts of one body it is essential I feel to know each other and how we function.)
Verses for the Promise Box
1) Jesus said to all” Whoever wishes to be my follower must deny his self, take up his cross and follow in my steps (Luke 9:23).
If each person wanted to move at his own personal pace the whole teams suffers. We need to listen to the person in the center in order to complete the race. Though individually we have been geared to go for victory we need to give up our self-wishes and be willing to follow his steps
2)”I am the vine and you are the branches. He, who abides in me and I in him, will produce fruit abundantly for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15.5)
With this simple allegory Jesus explains the mystery of his indwelling. He lets the branches blossom out and bear fruit. Yet there would be no fruit if he were not the source of divine life giving energy. He reminds me that apart from him I can do nothing, in other words in him I can do everything. Another point I wanted to point out is regarding to what he said about these branches. The ones, which did not bear fruit, were cut away and thrown into the fire. But what about those Christian branches that were rooted in him.” God promises a safe landing not a calm passage.” By pruning our branches he helps us bear more fruit and much fruit. Through all the hurts in our life he is actually cutting out those unwanted braches that can sap out the energy from those fruitful branches. Isn't looking at our hurts from this perspective so much more comforting.
3)”I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the father but through me (John 14.6)
Like space travel, my journey through life is a launch into the unknown. I do not know what tomorrow will bring. However I do not travel alone. Jesus is my navigator for he is the way. If my sights are always on Jesus, if my every decision is made in the light of his abiding presence, then I know my journey will bring me safely home to my father’s house. ”It is better to trust an unknown future to a known God”. We need to be so careful not to stray form the path because the Devil is roaming looking out whom he may devour and destroy. Do not let him rob your inheritance in heaven. Always have your sights on your savior.
4) ”No follower of mine shall ever walk in darkness, no, he shall possess the light of life (John 8:12)
Jesus is the beacon of my journey through life. When fears and doubts misunderstandings and rejection tend to darken my path, can always depend on him my guiding light. At times he guides me gently like reflectors on the road, at other times a low beam headlight will amply illuminate the way, sometimes I will need the high beam for cosmic vision. Whichever way it is no followers of Jesus will every walk in the darkness. Like David prayed “make your way plain for me to follow (Psalm 5:8)”. He will surely show you His way if you ask him to.
5) The community of believers was one heart and one mind. None of then claimed anything on his own, rather everything was held in common (Acts 4:32)
The unity of the early Christians is the theme here. To get through the difficult times in the early Church they were of one mind. Aren't we facing similar circumstances today where the Devil and His forces are threatening Christianity. To get stronger in Him and to reach out to other people as He asked us to we need to be of one heart and mind.
6) Let us keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus, who inspires us and perfects our faith (Heb 12:2)
Though physically we could not see the center of the circle we were relying on his direction. Even if the task of completing the race might have been daunting His words inspire us in the race of life.
7) Help carry one another’s burdens, in that way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Gal 6:2).
When I go to another in need, I fulfill the law of love, which Jesus had laid down. I can help carry others burdens not simply by cheering them up or urging them to smile or be happy. A more powerful means is to encourage them to unite their trials and sorrows to the suffering of Jesus. Compassion means to suffer with. Consider having a disabled member in the group. Would you have been able to progress as easily? The only way you could have done it would be to support the person through the race. In our lives don’t you come across spiritually disabled people? Instead of walking ahead and trying to complete our race we need to take time to help them spiritually. There are so many people hurting around you. We need to take the time to listen to them, we might not even need to speak, only let the love of Christ flow through us.
8)No man shall seek his own interest but rather that of his neighbor. (1 Corinthians 10:24)
What a paradox. By nature I am selfish and self-centered I instinctively think the more I get the happier I will be .Yet I have so often experienced the contrary. When I give of myself I find great joy and happiness. It is better to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)
9) Mary said “I am the servant of the Lord, let it be done to me as you say (Luke 1:38)
Though the request the angel made was preposterous humanly speaking that is, Mary whole-heartedly accepted his biding. She is a role model to say yes to the impossible. Do we give in to the will of the lord or are we bargaining for our rights.
10) Speak Lord for your servant is listening (1 Samuel 3:10)
Most people want to serve God but in advisory capacity. The creator of the world does not need your advice to run this creation. He just wants our lives in dedication to his plan. Samuel at a young age knew what it means to listen to Gods plan and not to tell him his plan. Don’t give God instructions-just report for duty.
11) But if I wash your feet, I who am teacher and Lord then you must wash each others feet (John 13:4)
It was a sign of humility and love. My service to others must always respect their dignity as persons. We need to have this attitude as we work with people. Our humility helps us overlook the faults of others, makes us less judgmental thus helping us to have a smooth relationship with people around us.
12) Take my yoke upon my shoulders and learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart. Your souls will find rest, for my soul is easy and my burden is light. (Mathew 11:29,30)
Most of you are unaware of yoking bullock/oxen to plough because you have mechanized farming instruments. From my experience in India I have seen that plowing is hard work. The two oxen are yoked together to this plow and they bear this all day long as the farmer used them to plough the land. If we had two inexperienced oxen you might have brute strength but all you would end up is bruises, as you needed to pull together to make the work easier. What the farmer does when he has inexperienced oxen is that it yokes it to an experienced ox and it shows the new oxen the easiest way through the day. Probably in Jesus’ day they had plough’s similar to this hence used this analogy for letting us know that if we yoked ourselves to Christ he would get us through life, that he would teach us the right way to shoulder life’s burdens.
13) Bear with one another. Forgive whatever grievances you have against another. Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you. (Colossians 3:13)
My greatest challenge is to relate lovingly to all those persons God sends into my life. My own insecurity often makes me judgmental, critical, jealous and defensive. If I can bear with people the Lord will not only heal me but also help establish a strong bond of affection with those people I found hard to love. We find it so hard to forgive people who knowingly or unknowingly hurt us but we forget that weave received his forgiveness and we did not deserve the sinless God to come down for us and suffer to save us from Sin.
14) I am not seeking my will but the will of one who sent me. (John 5:30)
Shouldn’t we be able to say the same thing that Jesus said .Ask God to give you the grace to be at the center of his will.
15) Let us then make it our aim to work for peace and to strengthen one another. (Romans 14:19).
It would make so much more sense when we move along in life and we have people with so many troubles and one of the least thins we could do is to reach out to them.
16) May God the source of all patience and encouragement enable you to live in perfect harmony with one another according to the spirit in Christ (Romans 15:5)
The Holy Spirit is the source of unity’s Paul begs us to live in peace and harmony with one another in order to witness to the world the fruits of His divine indwelling, love joy and peace.
17) Christ’s peace must reign into your hearts, since as members of one body you have been called to that peace. Dedicate yourself to thankfulness (Colossians 3:15)
At my Baptism I was received as a member of Gods family. My loving father adopted me as his child. Jesus shared his divine life with me making me a member of his body. With this dignity I am destined to live at peace with God and all the members of His family.
18) If a household is divided according to loyalties that household will not survive (Mark 3: 25)
Love is the matrix that binds us together as members of Gods family on the other hand sin fragments all interpersonal relationships. Sin is divisive and disruptive, damaging and destructive. Non-Christians all over the world are having a ball as Christians are fighting amongst ourselves accusing each other and doing the work of the devil for the Devil is called the accuser of the brethren.
19) Strive for peace with all men, and for that holiness without which none can see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14)
A community, a family spirit cannot be built on rules and regulations, it cannot be built on laws. It must be built on love. Love welds together as brother’s ad sisters in Christ. Love compels me to see the good in others, and is the source of genuine peace.
20) Live in harmony and peace and the God of love and peace is with you. (2Corinthians 13:11)
If we had at least some of the qualities mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13 we would be able to live in harmony with people around us. For love is patient, kind, not jealous or conceited, not ill mannered or selfish or irritable, does not keep a record of wrong, the faith, hope and patience of Love never fail. Love is eternal. It goes on to say that we may have a lot of gifts but unless we have love all the rest amounts to nothing.
21) Father into your hands I commend my spirit. (Luke 23:46)
We need to give up our individuality and be one with the father just as Christ was one with the Father. We need to give up our spirit to him.
22) Not my will but yours be done. (Mathew 26:34)
God doesn’t want shares in your life. He wants controlling interest.
23) How wonderful it is, how pleasant for Gods people to live together in harmony. (Psalm 133:1)
It is said in the bible that they will know we are Christians by our love. And when we live in harmony with people around us then they will know we have been with Christ.
24) I am the good shepherd, who is willing to die for the sheep. As the Father knows me and I know the Father, I know my sheep and they know me. (John 10; 14,15)
If God is your co-pilot, swap seats. Let him be your driver.
25) The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want (Psalm23: 1)
As David said, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of heath, I will fear no evil for thou are with me thy rod and thy staff shall comfort me. Do we have that kind of confidence in our Lord to shepherd us through the unknown tomorrows.
26) We who are strong in faith ought to help the weak to carry their burdens. We should not please ourselves. Instead we should all please our brothers for their own good in order to build them up in Faith. (Romans 15:1-3)
27) Love your neighbor as yourself. (Galatians 5:14)
28) Do your best to preserve the unity, which the spirit gives be means of the peace that binds you together. (Ephesians 4:3)
29) He is the head of the body, the Church (Colossians 1:18)
Christ who is the head of the church gave up his life for his bride. In return we need to love him and be rooted in him. Like the tree that is planted in good soil and draws nourishing sap from it we need to be rooted in Christ and he should be source of our strength.
30) All of you are Christ’s body and each one of you is a part of it. (1 Corinthians12: 27)
Being a part of his holy body we cannot continue to live our own lives. We need to submit to his will and live the way he wants us to.
31) Let us not give up the habit of meeting together as some did. Instead let us encourage one another all the more since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming near (Hebrew 10:25)
In order to have trust between a group they need to be familiar with each other and build a trusting relationship, which needs that, they meet regularly. In this game we might not have needed a lot of trust to hold the other persons hand but if we looked at life and in Christian group we share a lot of things, which is possible only through trusting each other. Don’t wait for 6 strong men to carry you to Church
32) They said, “Now let us build a city with a tower that reaches the sky, so that we can make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over all the earth.” (Genesis 11:4)
The reason I had put this there is to show that we could have unity but unless we had this unity in Christ we would be scattered like the people who were trying to build the tower of Babel. Does it have any significance today, of course? We have seen a lot of false prophets and cults in the past and they would have a group with unity but it was not rooted in Christ. We know that most of these cults had a very horrible end. Jesus said, “I am the gate, no one comes to the Father but through me (John 10:9)
33) For the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day and fire by night, in sight of all the house of Israel, throughout their journey. (Exodus 40:38)
When the children of God are walking through the deserts in life God does not forsake us in spite of our complaints. He guides us as a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire during the night.
34) I will be with thee; I will not fail thee nor forsake thee. (Joshua 1:5)
Jesus repeated this assurance that he would be with us even until the ends of the earth.
35) The lord says “ I will teach you the way you should go, I will instruct you and advise you.” (Psalm 32:8)
When we are submitted to Christ we do not have to worry about our own abilities, as God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. He does not look at our ability He looks at our availability. He assures us that He will lead us and guide us through life’s thorny path, isn’t it enough reassurance.
36) To you alone O Lord and not us must glory be given because of your constant love and faithfulness? (Psalm 115:1)
When we run the race and things are hard we usually say Lord why me?? But when things are going right do we ever give Him the credit due His name, Don’t we just say, boy this must be me. We need to be grateful for all the gifts that he has so graciously given us undeserving people. Like Paul says “ Whoever wants to boast must boast of what the Lord has done.”(2 Corinthians 11:17)
37) It is better to trust in the Lord than to depend on man/human leaders (Psalm 118:8)
If god is for us who cannot be against us. (Romans 8:31). When Peter and John were asked not to speak for Christ they said, “You yourselves judge which is right in God’s sight- to obey you or obey God” (Acts 4: 19)
38) You created every part of me; you put me together in my mother’s womb. You saw me before I was born. The days allotted to me had been recorded in your book before any of them began. (Psalm 139:13,16)
David sings that the Lord God knew his past and future even before he was born. Is it that hard to rely on this awesome God who knows so much about us and who has carved us on the palm of his hand.
39) Love the lord with all of thy heart, with all your mind and with all your strength and Love thy neighbor as thyself (Mathew22: 37,39)
The Lord had summed up all the commandments into 2.Both are based on love, for God is love. Not the kind that has lost in meaning when we say I fell in love and a couple of days later you get up to fall in love with someone else. His love is unchanging, unconditional, agape love.
40) I cannot talk with you much longer because the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me but the world must know that I love the Father that is why I do everything He commands me to do. (John 14:30,31)
Jesus willingly let the Devil afflict him in spite of knowing that he has no power over him. Nowadays we do not want someone to be having power over us. Jesus said that He wanted everyone to know that He loves His Father hence he does what he says. Jesus has also told us that if we love him we need to keep the commandments that He gave us. Are we willing to keep His commands. Do we love Him enough?
41) When one blind man leadeth another both fall into a ditch. (Mathew 15:14)
If we are relying on earthly friends to lead us through unknown pathways the end will be as it is said in the verse. We have an eternal friend in Jesus, He knows our tomorrows. Let us follow Him. He will lead us safely through life’s troubles. We set the sail; He makes the wind
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