A few years ago I was concerned for my children. I began to pray for them, in particular that they would grow up with genuine love for Christ and to know Him.
In seeking the Lord, the story of King David came to mind. David wanted to build a temple for the Lord. Ultimately it was his son Solomon who did the building, but because of David’s great desire, the Lord said to him, “because you wanted to build me a house, I will build you a house.”
It became apparent to me what God was saying to me. If I would pray for the family of God, (that is His children) then He would look after my family and my children. It was a promise unique to me, although not unique in the sense that this is Christ’s way, as evidenced in Scripture and His dealings with other people. When we seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness, all of these things are added unto us.
So I began to pray for the family of God, or God’s children as I referred to them. In my mind I was considering this to be the whole Body of Christ in my region. I also began to fast for the health of the Body of Christ. Essentially I was praying for the unity of God's people. I was praying for the Body of Christ to be healthy. I believed sincerely that as I continued to do this, there would be change and my faith began to rise.
Change did happen, but it turned out that it was me that needed to change. At least I needed to be the first to change. And it happened.
In my home town of Mt Morgan, which was a small community near Rockhampton, I had worked hard for the sake of Christ and the Gospel for about 12 years. During this time I had prayed much and shared the gospel in various ways but often felt like Jeremiah the prophet. It had been the toil of years and yet with few results. Of course that was not entirely true, because there had been many answers to prayer and miracles and salvations too, but it certainly felt like the results did not compare with the effort.
However I had been faithful and patient and this had been good for the congregation. Then along came someone new to town. He said he was sent by God to be a missionary to Mt Morgan, and yet his approach to the gospel was strange. He did not believe in the gifts of the Spirit, he did not believe in miracles. He said that the only inspired Bible was the King James Version and he named a prominent well-known Christian preacher as being the Anti-Christ much to the concern of some people who knew him. There was certainly some strangeness to his ways.
My wife and I invited this man and his wife over for a meal and attempted to get to know them. During this time I learned that they were planting a church in my town and I took the time to share some insight about our region. I said that the churches needed to consider each other and work together, and not be a law unto ourselves. We needed to serve one another. He was friendly and seemed appreciative of the time together.
Shortly after this it was his wife’s birthday. My wife decided we should make a cake and deliver it to their home one evening. I was not in favour of the idea because I knew how much he could talk and did not feel “in the mood” for several hours of talking. However within me I knew my wife was right and we should show love. And so we went.
When we arrived, and my wife delivered the cake. We sat around talking and this man started to tell me of the success of his new church. He said that in the last week he had led someone to Christ and baptised him, and had 4 new people join his church. He continued sharing how easy it was starting this church and how good it was.
As he continued I felt a touch of disappointment within myself because I knew how hard I had strived for Christ and the Kingdom. I thought that I had been selfless and giving and done all I could, with often very few results. However outwardly I tried to be gracious and heard myself saying “That’s wonderful.” I struggled with the idea that someone could simply come to my area, and have instant success when they didn't even have the “right beliefs about God.” They had obvious strangeness and yet seemed to be doing well.
As I struggled with this, I had an amazing moment of revelation. God opened my eyes in a second to recognise the family of God – the Body of Christ. I saw this man as the answer to my own prayers. I had prayed for years for the salvation of people in my area and for the Kingdom to grow. I had prayed for workers in the harvest field. Here before me was a man who was sent by God in answer to my prayers, and was bringing people to Christ.
In that moment I accepted him. I would have said earlier that I had accepted him, but that was more of an intellectual acceptance, but now I really accepted him. I loved him because I recognised that we belonged to each other. His strangeness was still there but didn't seem to matter to me.
That was the first of many moments for me in recognising the Body of Christ and seeing Christ in others who I would normally have felt distanced from in my feelings as a result of many other differences.
This whole set of experiences gave me even greater faith. I know my prayers are going to be answered. I remembered the words of Psalm 133 where it says that when brothers dwell together in unity, God commands His blessing. I knew that the days ahead are going to be different.
I share this to encourage you to see the Body of Christ differently. The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 11 that when we fail to recognise the Body of Christ, we eat and drink judgement on ourselves. It’s a warning that we need to see who we belong to and accept each other as Christ accepted us. It’s not a threat, but rather a liberating idea that will challenge you and change you.
So pray for the health of the Body of Christ, and your body will be healthy. Pray for the family of God and your family will be blessed. Help build God’s house (His people) and your house will be built. Seek first the Kingdom and all these things will be added unto you.
Once your eyes are opened to this, things will never be the same again.