By R. W. McAlister
In writing to the saints at Corinth, the apostle Paul said, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Cor. 6:19-20). Paul reminds the Corinthian saints of something we need to be aware of as well: that theirs was and ours is a holy and dignified calling. Our bodies and spirits belong to God – we’re not our own. It’s not for us to take our bodies and use them only in the way we desire. In the final analysis, they don’t belong to us; they belong to God and we ought to use them for His glory!
In John 15, verses 5&6, Jesus says, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” Jesus has already declared in verse 1 that He is the True Vine, but He hadn’t before declared that every disciple is a branch of the Vine. We need to understand that this message is addressed to members of His one body, not to denominations, as some would pervert the text.
A branch’s main purpose is bearing fruit. It may be weak in itself, but it has a living relationship with the vine and can be productive. To abide in Christ means to be in communion with Him so that our lives please Him. The disciple, without Christ, can do nothing. Paul declared, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13). Christ is our strength.
A Christian is a branch in Christ and I has the responsibility to bear fruit. He or she can’t get by on the fact that other branches are fruitful, each Christian must be bearing fruit in whatever way they’re capable. In addition to being a branch, a Christian is also:
A stone in the building. “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded” (I Peter 2, verses 5 & 6). Brethren, are we telling others about that “chief corner stone?” Are we doing what we must in order to spread the message of Christ? I can’t get by on the fact that the other stones fit into their places and do their work well in supporting the building. I have to do my part as well.
A Christian is a candle on the candlestick and must personally shine. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5, verses 14-16). This is perhaps one of the more powerful Bible passages about our responsibility to teach and evangelize others. We must let our light shine, that doesn’t mean we shine it in the face of others to blind them or force our beliefs on them. We let it shine so that it can be seen by others and be used to lead them to Christ. That’s the purpose of letting our lights shine. We’re to do it before men. Not in a way that will draw attention to ourselves just for the sake of having others see us (Matthew 6:1), but so that those who need to be led to Christ can see our light and find Him. Christ is the light, you see, and we’ll reflect His light if we walk in it.
According to Matthew 25, each of us has at least one talent, and we have a personal responsibility and an obligation to use what we have for the glory of God.
- R. W. McAlister preaches for the Anna Church of Christ in Anna, IL.He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.annachurchofchrist.com/