I would like to share with you today the gift that Jesus gives us—being part of a community, a body within Jesus Christ himself. I'd like to read a text found in Colossians 1:18-20 for you. It's part of Jesus telling us what it is to be a part of His community.
"And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross."
Today, we have the privilege of being a part of a church that is made up of many different parts. But I believe one of the most important parts is the sense of holy community that we have the ability to worship together to pray together, the ability to serve together. Think of all the aspects of service-oriented activities that the church provides. Are you choosing to be a part of one of those types of activities? Many isolate themselves and think that their relationship with Jesus is something that is personal and nothing that needs to be shared with others, but Jesus is calling us not to be isolated in our spirituality. Jesus wants us to share our spirituality with everyone that we come into contact with. So don't be an isolated Christian, be a Christian that says, "I want to share the name of Jesus to everybody that I come into contact with and be a part of the service of this church, which is His church."
Believers in Jesus understand that the more they serve, they more they sense Jesus in their life. There's another text that I want to share with you, regarding the question: What does it mean to be a part of this community of Jesus? It's found in 1 Corinthians 12:14-20, and I'm sure many of you have read this before.
"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. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body."
So Jesus has given us a direction of saying: This is the church. It's not made up of one individual strength or one person's opinion, but it's the collective body of bringing and sharing Jesus to the whole.
How does this church, as a body, have the opportunity to share?
We have Christian education, which clearly I've devoted my entire ministry to. I love the fact that the Seventh-day Adventist Church has an education system to bring Jesus to each and every child in this conference. I'm thankful for the teachers and the principals who dedicate every day to this ministry.
Another form of ministry is the church itself. Think of all of the different responsibilities and offices that are held in a church. Every part of that body is a part of the whole. Don't isolate yourself. Be a part of this body, whatever that might be, but share.
If you take it even a step further, we're all part of this conference, the Southern California Conference. What a gift it is to be a part of a conference that makes it central goal to bring Jesus to everyone into Southern California Conference. So let's thank Jesus for giving us in Colossians 1:8 the understanding that there may be many parts to us, but we are one body in Jesus.
The last text that I want to share with you today is found in Ephesians 4:3-6. I like this text because this text essentially starts to give us what it means to be a community in Jesus: "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."
Wow, that's a powerful text! Do you realize that we are all a part of this immaculate, this incredible salvation that Jesus has given to all of us, and we together as a community in the Southern California Conference can bring Jesus and this special hope to so many.
There's a part that goes with that text, essentially saying, "We're a community of brothers and sisters." It's saying that, together, we can work together so that we can have one cause—that cause is Jesus Himself.
Let's be careful not to be sidetracked by issues that may not necessarily represent the focus and the emphasis of this church and this conference, because there is one focus, there is one important item in this conference—and that's exalting Christ. Exalting Christ is the sole purpose of the existence of the Southern California Conference. (Learn more about our mission here.) We are brothers and sisters of Christ; we get to be a proactive part of bringing others into this family of Jesus.
These are just three small text in the Bible, but each one of them speaks to how important it is that each one of us use our gifts, our abilities that God has given to us, to be a community, a community for Jesus. I pray that each of us will take this challenge and reach out and not isolate, but reach out and bring others to Jesus and to this church so that they can see the workings of Jesus Christ through all of us.