the weblog of Alan Knox


Church as people who find themselves entangled in each other’s lives

Posted by on Apr 8, 2013 in blog links, community, gathering | 4 comments

Occasionally, I come across a phrase or description that either captures my attention or nicely describes my own thoughts about a subject. This happened last weekend when I read a post called “Family, Fellowship and Friendship” from Christopher at “Life With Da Man CD.”

By the way, if you’re not following Christopher’s blog, you really should. I love the questions that he asks and the stories that he tells from his own life and his own struggles at sharing his life with his brothers and sisters in Christ.

Anyway, in Christopher’s post, this phrase (and then the description that followed) captured my attention:

Church at its best is when a group of people who otherwise have no reason to be together, find themselves entangled in each other’s lives as they are now members of the family of God.

That family is not just a nominal one. It’s a messy one. It’s one with all sorts of oddballs. It’s one with varying types of challenges which often come up when such a diversity of characters meet. Yet in that all, the family is one marked by commitment to fellowship and friendship.

I love the concept of the church as people who find themselves entangled in each other’s lives. Of course, as Christopher points out, it is God (and our identity as the family of God) that entangles us together, but from our perspective, it may seem weird that we’re together.

Here’s the problem, though. Many times today, people CAN point to something that holds them together, whether it’s a certain location, a certain creed or confession, a certain organizational structure, a certain program, a certain leader, etc. We should not be held together by any of these things (or anything other than our mutual relationship with Jesus Christ).

But, as Christopher points out, there’s something special and different about a group of people who find themselves divinely “entangled” with one another, especially when there’s no other good reason for those people to associate with one another. Our lives are messy; we’re oddballs and often at odds with one another; we’re challenging to be around… but we can’t get enough of one another.

Why? Because we constantly point each other to Jesus Christ… constantly remind each other of the grace we have in Jesus Christ… and constantly encourage each other to follow Jesus.

Yes. I love that description of the church as those who find themselves (divinely or spiritually) entangled in each other’s lives. But, more than I love the description, I love that I get to live that kind of life every day.

Jesus was so interruptible

Posted by on Mar 29, 2013 in community, discipleship, fellowship | 9 comments

Yesterday, in my post “Walking as if other people are important,” I wrote that we should live – and even walk – in a way that demonstrates that other people are important to us. In that post, I quoted a post from some friends of mine who are now living in Africa. Some of the people they work with were talking about the way that foreigners walk: “with such determination that you don’t even stop to greet people on the way.”

In a comment responding to that post, my friend Art (from “”) said: “This begins to explain why Jesus was so interruptible.”

Jesus was so interruptible.

Let that sink in for a while… a few seconds… a few minutes… Or, like me, let it rattle around in your head for a few hours.

Jesus was so interruptible.

There’s a famous portion of Luke’s Gospel called “the journey narratives.” This is the last half of the book that begins in Luke 9:51 where he writes about Jesus: “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.”

So, Jesus “sets his face to go to Jerusalem.” He was on a mission… determined… had a goal in mind. But, even while he was moving with determination toward Jerusalem, he was still interruptible.

In Luke 9:51-56, Jesus tries to spend some time with some people in Samaria. In Luke 9:57-62, he talks with some people on the road. In Luke 10:1-12, he stops to spend time with 72 followers before sending them out to proclaim the good news of the kingdom. He later rejoices with that same group and spends some private time with them. In Luke 10:25-37, he even answers questions from a man who was only trying to test him, and Jesus then tells a story. In Luke 10:38-42, he stays in the home of Martha and Mary.

And, it keeps going from there. Even though Jesus was walking toward Jerusalem with determination, he was still interruptible.

Jesus was so interruptible.

I want to live interruptible as well. I want other people to be important to me like they were to Jesus. I don’t want to see other people as distractions or interruptions. I want to live interruptible.

Jesus was so interruptible.

And, if we are following Jesus, then we will be interruptible also.

Walking as if other people are important

Posted by on Mar 28, 2013 in blog links, community, discipleship, fellowship | 5 comments

Love one another. Consider others more important than yourself. Serve one another. Care for one another. Encourage one another. Teach one another. Edify one another.

Did you know that there’s an important precept underlying all of the instructions above? Yep. That precept is this: For those who follow Jesus Christ, other people are important.

My friends Paul are Laurel moved to the Congo last year. They are working with Wycliffe Bible Translators, and they’re currently working with several local languages. But, it seems they are learning much more than just languages. Last week, they published a post called “Convicting Language Lesson.”

Here’s how they described an important lesson they’re learning:

A few days ago, I was sitting in the office along with the Komo translators when suddenly one of them, Tony, stood up and walked brusquely across the room with a very determined look on his face. Then they all started laughing. After a minute or two, Amisi, the director asked me, “Do you understand what we are talking about?” When I said no, he began to explain a very interesting verb to me. In Komo, they have a word for going somewhere with such determination that you don’t even stop to greet people on the way. He said “You know, like you foreigners often do” . . . Ouch! It’s true, isn’t it? We are often more goal oriented than people oriented and it really sticks out in a culture like this. Nonetheless, it’s a pretty cool verb.

There’s not much left to say after that, is there?

The way we live… even the way we walk from place to place… demonstrates whether or not we think people are important.

I’ve been to a couple of places around the world that are not event oriented (like most people are here in the United States). I’ve learned so much from the people of these culture. Primarily, I’ve learned how to live in a way that shows that other people are important. I’ve learned to talk to people in a way that shows that I care more about what they have to say than what I plan to say next.

Of course, sometimes my old American habits come to the surface. But, I want to live – and even to walk – in a way that shows other people that they are important to me.

But, then, they have to actually be important to me first…

Guest blogger: When you can’t find a church to belong to…

Posted by on Mar 25, 2013 in community, fellowship, gathering | 13 comments

I’ve invited people to write “guest blog posts” for this blog. There are several reasons for this: 1) To offer different perspectives. 2) To generate even more discussion and conversation between blogs. 3) To introduce other bloggers to my readers.

(If you are interested in writing a guest blog post, please contact me at alan[at]alanknox[dot]net.)

Today’s post was written by Felicity Dale. She publishes the blog “Simply Church.” You can connect with Felicity via Twitter (@FelicityDale) or Facebook.


When you can’t find a church to belong to…


“I live in XXXX. Do you know any good home churches in my area?”

I often get emails like this, and here’s how I often respond:

“There are various tools that might help you discover a simple/organic church in your area, (I usually point them to the “find a church” feature on but I’d like you to pray about a different approach. You’ve been a believer for a number of years. Why don’t you start something? Work with those who don’t yet know the Lord or the unchurched—it’s much easier. We’d love to help you.”

Most Christians, especially those from a more traditional form of church background, assume the obvious way to start any kind of church is to invite a few Christians to their home for fellowship. As other believers join them and the group gets large enough, they will multiply out into two churches and so on.

This is not the best way for several reasons:

  1. The Christians will bring all their preconceived ideas about church with them. It will be more of a challenge to think in the fresh, out-of-the-box ways that simple/organic church requires. The temptation will be to do “Honey, I shrunk the
  2. It is more difficult to be missional. Existing believers tend to focus on the gathering. Many Christians don’t have non-believers within their sphere of influence.
  3. You are trying to create community where a natural one doesn’t exist. Yes, there is a “fellowship of the Holy Spirit” with all other believers, but as you add people to a group, it will take time for people to share their everyday lives together
    outside of meetings.
  4. Multiplication usually occurs very, very slowly.

It is far easier to make a disciple of someone who doesn’t yet know the Lord. In Luke 10, Jesus told his disciples to pray and look for a person of peace, someone out in the harvest (Luke 10:1-10). You can recognize them because not are they a person of influence (either good or bad), but they will also offer you hospitality. Work within their existing sphere of influence using their home as the base for what goes on. Use a pattern simple enough that within a few weeks they can lead it. As their family and friends find the Lord, multiplying churches is the natural result. Your ongoing job is
to mentor the person of peace.

The advantages:

  1. The problems and issues that come up are those of life, not theology or ecclesiology.
  2. Community already exists and their shared lives will continue outside of the meeting context.
  3. New disciples have a natural mission field all around them and evangelism follows spontaneously along relational lines.
  4. It’s easy to create a vision and expectation of multiplication.

In the book of Acts, there are only two people recorded who became believers as individuals—Paul and the Ethiopian eunuch. The rest all were part of a group—Cornelius and his household, Lydia and her household, the Philippian jailor and his household. Each of these was a person of peace.

Several years ago we started a church in some low income housing projects. God led us to pray for this particular area, and one day, as Tony (my husband) and I were prayer walking there, we were surprised by a heavy storm. Running to take shelter under a balcony we joined two Hispanic ladies sitting in lawn chairs, chatting together.

They asked us what we were doing there, and we told them we were praying for their area. Long story short, one of the ladies, Rosa, invited us into her home to pray for her family. God began answering prayer and soon we asked her if we could share Jesus with her family too.

Would it have been better for us to invite Rosa to the church that met in our home? I don’t think so. We would have extracted her from her environment and her family would probably never have come. But we met in her home, and it wasn’t long before there were 20-30 of us in her tiny apartment, nearly all brand new believers.

It’s time to put our theology into action. What might God do if we let him lead us into the harvest?

Replay: The inadequacy of seminars and conferences

Posted by on Mar 23, 2013 in community, fellowship | 9 comments

Four years ago, I worked with some brothers and sisters in Christ to put on a “conference” called “Developing a Biblical Ecclesiology.” I put “conference” in quotes because it was different than anything I’ve ever been part of. But, that’s a different story. In the week leading up to that conference, I met a man named Art on Twitter. Art ended up coming to the conference, and we’ve been friends ever since. In fact, we now work together. After the conference, Art wrote me an email response that I published in a post called “The inadequacy of seminars and conferences.” I think Art shares some thoughts that would be good for all of us to consider.


The inadequacy of seminars and conferences

We had a great time at the “Developing a Biblical Ecclesiology” seminar last weekend. However, seminars and conferences are inadequate for what the church needs. Why? Because spiritual teaching may include lecture and discussion, but it also must include example. Thus, we learn as much – if not more – from watching someone’s example as we learn from their words.

I “met” Art Mealer online during the week before the seminar. He attended our Saturday sessions and asked some very good questions. Then, he and I emailed back and forth Sunday. In one of his emails, he pointed out exactly why seminars and conferences alone are inadequate. (By the way, his email also explains why a Sunday sermon from someone that we don’t really know if also inadequate.)

I think you’ll enjoy Art’s email below.


I think the time was well used. The first two segments laid biblical groundwork in a non-confrontational way. Personally, I was most touched by your balance and gentleness on these issues. As to the panel time, I doubt most people knew what questions to ask, and just having your panel share from the heart about experiencing community as a family together was a wonderful way of being the epistles we are meant to be for all of us there. A clear and compelling picture emerged.

But this means of shedding light on who we are as the church is a bit like the “evangelist” who wins someone to Christ and then leaves, at least for some of those attending (what was it, 16 assemblies represented?). Perhaps this is the most important thing I’d like someday to talk to you about. You may already be headed in the direction God has burdened my heart, or you may see something altogether different. So, forgive me for what follows if I am out of turn.

There is a formula for change that states C=D x M x P; Change= Dissatisfaction with the present x Model for the future way of being x Process for getting there. I know this isn’t a biblical thing, but observing the world around us carefully–the world designed by God to reflect His truths and principles–can (if not trusted as “gospel”) give us light (in the way we know gravity works from observing it, not from the bible directly). Let me pose the problem in these terms.

Many Christians experience Dissatisfaction with the isolation of “Church” attendance and those suffocating traditions that do void the commands of us being the church together. Yesterday, you folks presented a good chunk of Model, letting the saints get a glimpse of how things could be if we took a more careful, open look at scripture. While you hinted at Process in the language you used (framing the whole matter under “Developing,” learning, walking in some confusion as things are worked out in every day, messier-than-blackboards life). But “Process” for other assemblies regarding the major transition you present, do you think it adequate to produce change?

In your assembly, isn’t it in seeing the modeling day by day, the close interactions with one another, the personal experiences that forge and reinforce a more biblical way of being together that is the Process through which the Spirit works? It isn’t lecture alone that produces obedience and transformation; it isn’t even learning. It is being shown how to by example that births new behaviors and values. It is being held a mirror by the faithful wounds of brothers and sisters so we can see where we are off balance. It is being in a place where we are safe, accepted, for all of our flaws, that we can let go of defenses and face the fear of taking off masks. The place where we can admit sin and find help. Where we can take root in Him. Outside of being present at the birth of new life, nothing is more precious than seeing another man or woman as they learn to humble themselves under the Spirit in this moment and that, and be transformed bit by bit into an image of the Son, pure love beginning to work in and through them.

The panel spoke of this with tears. But most saints know nothing of this.

I think the patterns we see in scripture about how the church developed and grew and was brought back on track when it got tangled in errors presents a function in the church that was designed to provide an up close Model of how we interact/think of/love one another but especially for that Process element of change. How often when you present this material do you hear, “How do we get from here to there?” Sure, a New Testament, the Holy Spirit, and a yellow Highlighter should, in theory, be enough. But God has invited us (more, given us the unimaginable privilege to serve Him, our fellow saints, and our fellow doomed human family) to participate in His work. I think God not only provided for transformation of the saints within an assembly that is healthy, but also to have a sort of “white blood cell” team to provide a way to heal the body that has fallen sick. It seems to me the NT demonstrates that design in the work of itinerants like Paul, Timothy, Titus, etc. Church planters not only plant new churches. Church planters provide a servant leadership team that comes alongside troubled assemblies and quietly “sets in order the things that are wanting” and “ordains elders” (developing biblical leadership).

What if, for example, it would not be out of character for the Spirit to call one or two or three of the families at Messiah (etc.) and make them available to spend two months or eight months (whatever time it turns out to be), living among another assembly as they help them make the transition from a faulty church attendance model to becoming the family of God together?

Replay: Imagine all the people…

Posted by on Mar 16, 2013 in community, fellowship, love, scripture | Comments Off on Replay: Imagine all the people…

I originally wrote the post “Imagine all the people” about six years ago. No, this post is not about a John Lennon song. This post is about thinking about people who are different than us. But, the post is not about changing people so that they’re more like us. It’s about learning to live with and love people who are different than us. Why would we want to do that? Because, according to Scripture, we are one family in Jesus Christ.


Imagine All The People

My family is studying Ephesians. Now, I know that some of you who know me well are laughing, because I LOVE to study Ephesians – it seems that I am ALWAYS studying Ephesians. Anyway, this is actually for a class assignment for which I have recruited my family to help.

We are supposed to read through Ephesians (and 1 Peter later) and answer the following question: “What do these texts say about faith as a way of life?”

As we were reading through chapter 2 of Ephesians, we noticed the emphasis on how God had created one new people from the Jews and Gentiles (Eph 2:14-16). This new people was to live as a family (household) and citizens of a new kingdom (Eph 2:19). Again, in chapter 3, Paul says that when Jews and Gentiles lives as one people (the church) they demonstrate the manifold wisdom of God (Eph 3:10). Paul also reminds us again that we are one family named for God, such that God is the patriarch of the family (Eph 3:14-15). He then calls us to strength, knowledge, and love (Eph 3:16-19).

We discussed how difficult it is for us to live with and love people who are different from us. Certainly the Jews and Gentiles found this kind of life difficult. Yet, God expects us to live as a family and to love one another – and not just any family, but His family – and not just with people who are like us, but with all believers, even if they are very different from us. How do we do that?

So, we did a quick exercise that really helped me, and hopefully it helped them. Maybe it will help you as well. Here is the exercise: Think of someone who is completely different from you. Think about their race, ethnicity, education level, economic level, hygiene, clothing, housing, language, culture, etc. Picture that person in your mind, and ask yourself, “How can I possibly love that person and live together as family with that person.” Then, read the end of Ephesians 3 below:

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 ESV)

Certainly this passages applies to more than our living together in love with those who are different from us. But, it does apply to this as well. Because of God’s power at work in us, He is able to love someone through us that we would never love on our own.

The result of the success of the Lollard educational programme

Posted by on Mar 7, 2013 in church history, community | 4 comments

I have thoroughly enjoyed studying some of the “heretical” groups of the middle ages, that is, groups of Christians who sprung up from place to place before Luther and the Reformation. Many of these groups bear striking resemblance to later Reformation-era groups, especially the Anabaptists and other “radical reformers.”

For example, in England, there was a group called “Lollards” who followed the “pre-reformer” John Wycliffe. (By the way, if you’re not familiar with Wycliffe, I’d encourage you to investigate him and the “Lollards.”) These groups of believers opposed the Catholic Church in several areas, specifically in regards to the clergy and transubstantiation. (In fact, their Catholic opponents often asked suspected Lollards if the bread was actually the body of Christ, to which the Lollards would reply that it was just a piece of bread, thus condemning them.)

In many ways, the religious leaders of the day did not know what to do about the Lollards, because they did not make sense to them. They didn’t know what to call the simple meetings that these believers held in homes and public places. They couldn’t understand why these “Lollards” kept quoting Scripture (in English, though, which was always suspect). Although there were a few “leaders” (from an outward perspective), the groups continued to thrive after the leaders were, um, removed.

Speaking to this last point, consider this passage in The Premature Reformation: Wycliffite Texts and Lollard History by Anne Hudson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988):

If there were few ‘prophets’, in the mould of Swinderby, Thorpe, or Wyche, in the later period, there was a host of lesser figures, men and women, who in the course of their everyday activities proselytized, encouraged and upbraided the wavering, and fostered the faithful. It seems clear that the dominating figures were not to be found in Lollardy of the last sixty years before Lutheranism. In part this is doubtless the effect of the continued persecution, and most notably of Arundel’s Constitutions; conventional wisdom would add the effect of Oldcastle’s rebellion in removing lay support for the heretics amongst the aristocracy and gentry. But it is worth examining whether in part it is not also the result of the success of the Lollard educational programme. For it is clear that the communities themselves had effectively taken over from the individual preachers as teachers and maintainers of heresy. (449-50)

In a theology course, a seminary professor once told me that if the seminaries were doing their job correctly and the church was doing its job correctly, then the seminaries would not need to exist. So, considering the quote above, it seems that the fact that seminaries continue to exist is a demonstration of the failure of that educational program.

On the other hand, those who persecuted the Lollards for their “heresy” found that their “educational programme” was vastly successful. And, what was that educational program? “The communities themselves had effectively taken over from the individual preachers as teachers and maintainers of heresy” (with “heresy” referring to the beliefs and practices of the Lollards).

What would happen if communities of believers today took over from “the individual preachers as teachers and maintainers” of the way of Christ? Would we see a similar success to that “educational programme”?

Learning to live as a follower of Christ is not a private thing

Posted by on Feb 19, 2013 in blog links, community | 4 comments

Fred at “On the Journey” wrote a very good post last week called “Lessons From The Man Who Ate New Orleans.” The post was triggered by an event called A Place at the Table that Fred and his wife Jan participated in back in January.

Fred describes part of the event like this: “[W]e watched a film titled The Man Who Ate New Orleans, about a minister who ate at every restaurant in New Orleans to learn about the city and its people.The film discussed the seven cardinal virtues of New Orleans: community, generosity, openness to outsiders, celebration, resiliency, diversity, and tradition.”

There are some great things to think about in those “cardinal virtues,” but for this post, I’d like to focus on two paragraphs later in Fred’s post.

While thinking about community, Fred writes this:

Learning to live as a follower of Christ takes more than hearing a sermon, singing songs, or sitting in a class. It is not a private thing. It must be lived out in community with others, and that must go beyond what happens in a once-a-week gathering. The second greatest commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus takes this further when he commands us to love as he loved us. That is a sacrificial love that can only be shown in relationship with others.

Living in community is messy, whether that community is a neighborhood in a city or a group of Christians. We’re dealing with human beings here! If we seek to live in community with other believers, we will get dirty helping other believers, we will be frustrated by other believers, and we will be hurt by other believers. Look all through Scripture and other histories. You will not find a Utopian community. We will sin against one another. That is why we are called to be people of grace and forgiveness. When we have a true view of sin, we can forgive others and love them. Forgiveness is one of the things we must practice in order to live in community, along with being a friend who listens and understands compassionately.

If you’re seeking to live in community in Jesus Christ, then I’d highly recommend that you think about what Fred wrote. None of us are perfect at following Jesus Christ and demonstrated the nature of our Father. Because we are not perfect, we will cause problems among our brothers and sisters in Christ. The problems are compounded when we realize that none of our brothers and sisters in Christ are perfect, and our imperfections and disobediences and preferences and selfishness will cause… well, like Fred said, a mess.

We are a messy people, even at our best. God loves us and forgives us in spite of our mess. In the midst of our messiness, God offers us grace.

This is an image of how we should treat one another in the midst of all of our mess: love, forgiveness, and grace.

The only other option is to stay away from other people, so that you don’t have to offer them love, forgiveness, and grace. But, for a follower of Jesus Christ, this is not a real option.

Some nuts are hard to crack. So stop trying to crack them!

Posted by on Feb 14, 2013 in blog links, community, fellowship | 4 comments

Miguel at “God Directed Deviations” has written a very interesting (and thought-provoking) post called “Do Christians have an obligation to pry into the lives of others?

In his post, Miguel brings up instructions and statements in Scripture such as “You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:16) and “Be imitators of me, brothers and sisters, and watch carefully those who are living this way, just as you have us as an example” (Philippians 3:17).

These passages indicate a certain amount “transparency” or familiarity between brothers and sisters in Christ. But, does that mean that we are supposed to “pry” into one anothers’ lives?

Miguel makes a few interesting comments regarding this question (beginning with the point about identifying believers by their fruit):

Yes, I suppose that their just might be a place for fruit inspectors within the body of Christ. Might be…

But there’s a major flaw in some thinking here. People are not cans that need to be pried open to have their fruit inspected. Are they? Neither are they Tupperware containers of different opacities whereby others can examine their fruit in degrees of transparency. Fruit grows and should be visible. If it’s not visible yet, it seems presumptuous to pry someone open to see if there are any fruit inside so as to make judgments regarding their spiritual state.

There is certainly a level or purposed, or intentional transparency needed for others to grow.

Like Miguel, I believe this type of “transparency” is necessary for people to grow in maturity in Jesus Christ. But, also like Miguel, I think this transparency must be “intentional.” What does this mean?

Well, it means that we are not to pry into the lives of other people. What?!?! How will we know their fruit if we don’t pry? How will we “consider one another” (Hebrews 10:24) if we don’t pry?

It’s simple. You see, “pry” indicates that we’re going somewhere where we’re not invited or wanted. We’re using force to try to break into something that’s not open to us.

But, when we intentionally open ourselves to one another, there is no reason for prying. When we invite each other into our lives, we do not need to use force to understand what’s going on.

No, we don’t pry into the lives of other believers. Instead, we go where we’re invited. When people share their lives with us and when we share our lives with them – when we live together in community in Jesus Christ – there will be no reason to pry. We will understand the importance of having other people observe our way of life, and they will understand the important of having us observe their way of life.

But, if someone doesn’t share their life with you? Well, you can’t make them, and shouldn’t try. Encourage them? Yes. Show them by example? Yes. Explain the importance? Yes. Pry? No.

Instead of prying, we need mutual transparency with mutual concern and care for one another… no prying involved.

I thank God for these Very Important People among the church

Posted by on Feb 13, 2013 in community, discipleship, edification | 6 comments

There are people among the church who travel around the world, following the leading of the Holy Spirit, proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, and serving others in God’s name. They work tirelessly for the kingdom of God, pouring themselves out like an offering, trusting God alone for their strength and for the outcome of any of their service. I thank God for these brothers and sisters in Christ. They are important and necessary for the body of Christ to build itself up in love.

There are people among the church who never travel more than a few miles from their home. They follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, and serve others in God’s name. They work tirelessly for the kingdom of God, pouring themselves out like an offering, trusting God alone for their strength and for the outcome of any of their service. I thank God for these brothers and sisters in Christ. They are important and necessary for the body of Christ to build itself up in love.

There are people among the church who can speak or write eloquently, putting together a logical argument that can encourage others toward faith and unity and maturity in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit uses their words to teach and admonish and correct and exhort their brothers and sisters in Christ in a way that honors God and builds up their hearers or readers. I thank God for these brothers and sisters in Christ. They are important and necessary for the body of Christ to build itself up in love.

There are people among the church who cannot speak or write eloquently, but they live in a manner that encourages others toward faith and unity and maturity in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit uses their actions to teach and admonish and correct and exhort their brothers and sisters in Christ in a way that honors God and builds up those who observe their example. I thank God for these brothers and sisters in Christ. They are important and necessary for the body of Christ to build itself up in love.

There are people among the church who have been given a large amount of money and other resources. They allow the Holy Spirit complete use of their enormous finances to provide for the needs of others – to help the homeless and hungry and prisoners and sick in Jesus’ name. They often give in God’s name even when the have to go without themselves. I thank God for these brothers and sisters in Christ. They are important and necessary for the body of Christ to build itself up in love.

There are people among the church who have very little money or other resources. They allow the Holy Spirit complete use of their meager finances to provide for the needs of others – to help the homeless and hungry and prisoners and sick in Jesus’ name. They often give in God’s name even when the have to go without themselves. I thank God for these brothers and sisters in Christ. They are important and necessary for the body of Christ to build itself up in love.

Perhaps you see yourself in one of the descriptions above. I thank God for you. You are important and necessary for the growth of the body. Without you and what God can do through you, the body of Christ would not be able to grow in love and faith and maturity as God desires.

Perhaps you do not see yourself in one of the descriptions above. I thank God for you. You are important and necessary for the growth of the body. Without you and what God can do through you, the body of Christ would not be able to grow in love and faith and maturity as God desires.

You are important to God. You are important to the church of Jesus Christ. And, you are important to me.