Recently, Zach Echols presented a lesson dealing with the above concepts in regard to the local congregation. It helped me see the local congregation in a way I had never considered before.

The word ORGANIZATION is defined as, "A number of persons or groups having specific responsibilities and united for some purpose or work." The word ORGANISM is defined as, "Any system as analogous to a living body."

Our land is filled with many civic organizations such as Kiwanis, Lion’s Club, Woman’s Clubs, various auxiliary clubs, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, etc. An individual makes a choice of the organization they want to belong to and joins. The organization has its rules that are to be followed. The person joining can be an active or passive member. They can do just as much or as little work as they choose and still be recognized as a faithful member. They can attend as many of the scheduled meeting or as few as they want and still be recognized as a faithful member. If, for some reason, they become tired or disenchanted with the organization, they can quit without any unpleasant consequences.

There are many who become Christians believing the church is a organization and the concept noted above is how they view their involvement in it and the degree of their responsibility to it. Because they view the church (local body) as an organization their mind set is that they can do as little or as much spiritual work and be acceptable to God. They feel they can attend as many or as few of the assemblies as they please and God will view them as acceptable. They feel they can give as much or as little of their financial resources and still receive the rich blessing from God. If for some reason they get their feelings hurt by a sermon, the elders, or some member, they can just quit or hop to another nearby congregation and still have the approval of God.

However, in reality, the church, (local congregation) is really an organism. This is vividly portrayed by Paul in 1 Cor 12. He likens each member of a local congregation as a member of the body of believers. He portrays each member as a body part, i.e., tongue, eye, ear, etc. Each body part of this organism (local congregation) has different responsibilities to the body as a whole, depending upon their various talents and abilities.

When each member of the body functions in accord to the abilities they have, then the body, as a whole, is healthy, vibrant, active, and successful in edifying itself and will grow both spiritually and numerically. Each member recognizes they have a part to do and will do it because they are a part of a spiritual organism rather than an organization.

For a member to say "I quit" or "I'm leaving" because of hurt feelings, it cripples and hampers the body being able to function as a healthy whole. It makes about as much sense for the toes to say, "I quit" because "I'm always covered up and nobody notices me." Or, the heart saying, "‘I quit’ because I want to do what the mouth is doing and nobody will let me; I am tired of just thumping along day in and day out, I want to do something different."

Paul points out in Romans 12, that each of us have different abilities (gifts) and we should individually use our abilities to edify, help, and encourage each other. By doing so we individually contribute to the spiritual health and growth of the local congregation ((organism). Remember, we are not a spiritual organization but, rather, a spiritual organism. The spiritual health of this congregation depends upon each individual who belongs to it. Beloved, if you are a little toe in the body, be the best little toe you can be!!!

By Dick Millwee

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