At whatever point in your life you decided to become a Christian you committed yourself to being a faithful follower of Jesus Christ. You did not merely agree to a set of doctrines; you did not only allow Christ’s sacrificial death to atone for your sins. You set your feet to follow in the footsteps of the Master, going where you were led, doing what you were called to do. None of us do that perfectly, of course, but the primary goal of our lives should be to conform to the teachings and example of Jesus, through the power of his Spirit at work within us, as best we possibly can.

Though we are called to live a Christian life even when we are by ourselves, and sometimes exercise Christian faith aided by nothing more than the Holy Spirit, we are not intended to engage in our Christian pilgrimage alone. Jesus, knowing we would need all the encouragement, accountability, and help we could get, placed us among other Christians who are on the same path. In the largest sense that is the Church, with a capital “C”.

However, from the earliest days of Christian history, followers of Jesus have banded together in churches, with a small “c,” ranging from small house assemblies to huge congregations, but always seeking to live out their faith in union with one another.

If you are a member of Parkway Baptist Church, at some point in your life you decided that the path of Christianity could best be followed for you by joining this family of faith. Just as when you became a Christian you were doing more than accepting theological truths, by uniting with us at Parkway you were doing more than placing your name on the roll. You were becoming part of the body.

Paul, the first great theologian of the Church, used that body analogy throughout his letters as a good way of understanding how we were individually to fit into the congregation. If you want to dig into the issue, read Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12. The gist of his argument in both places is that we are all “part” of the body, but we each have a unique “part” to play. As he stated the premise, “For as in one body we have many members, and not all members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another” (Romans 12:4).

When you accept this biblical principle, the natural question you cannot avoid is, “And what part am I?” A couple of weeks ago I started a sermon series entitled, “Life Together: Being the Body of Christ.” Using mainly the Gospel of Matthew, from now until the beginning of Advent we will consider together what it means to be a particular body of believers, a local congregation, and collectively the body of Christ, the Church. If you take these texts that we will examine seriously, you cannot avoid the expectation that you will function as a particular part of the body.

In Romans, Paul goes on to provide a general list of some of the functions people might perform within the church, from preaching to serving to giving to showing compassion. I’m sure it is not an exhaustive list, and you can best determine your own role through prayer, the advice of others, and an openness to whatever opportunities present themselves.

The body part analogy can be pushed a little too far. In the human body there are some parts that apparently serve no function at all. The wisdom teeth, for example, often misalign the jaw and impede dental hygiene, but serve no useful purpose. Would you want to choose them as your role model?

Following Christ for each of us means accepting our function within the body. What’s yours?