Someone has said, “Getting back to basics is the simplest way to find calm in the chaos.” It was 1959, and Vince Lombardi has just been given the Green Bay Packers’ job. The previous year the team had only won two games. At the first preseason meeting, the new head coach held out a football for all the players to see, and then he said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” Can’t you get any more basic than that, right? One person applied this to the Christian journey saying, “…our success or failure will be determined by how well we execute the basics of the Christian life.”
I wonder if that is what Jesus was ultimately doing when He responded to this question offered by a Pharisee who was a lawyer, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law?” (Matthew 22:36) I suspect you are familiar with the answer Jesus gives, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hand, all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40). Jesus was not disqualifying the need to obey the old law; instead, it directed their attention to the basics once again.
In our present-day “chaos,” I fear that one of Satan’s tactics in all this is to cause us to lose sight of a fundamental truth. What is it? That we are a body of believers that need one another to be all that God desires us to be. Today I want to remind us of some simple, fundamental truths about us as His people that might help us journey through the chaos surrounding us.
“…so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”
If there is ever a study that reveals our need for one another, it is the study of the “one another” verses of the New Testament. Here is just a sampling of them: “Be kindly affectionate to one another” (Romans 12:10), “…have the same care for one another” (1st Corinthians 12:25), “bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2), “…comfort one another with these words” (1st Thessalonians 4:18). The list goes on and on! The simple, basic truth is this; we need one another! Why is this “one another” idea so crucial to the church and the gospel? Because success or failure depends in part on our understanding that we are a team. At least on some level, I fear that this pandemic, which is every bit real, could be used by Satan to reinforce our individuality in such a way that we begin to think that I can be the Christian God wants me to be without the church. This idea is a thought that we must take captive quickly, before it grows too many roots. Here is one way to do that.
“For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function…”
Just how important do you think you are to the body of Christ? I believe that is a great question that we need to let God answer for us. Ephesians 4:16 in the NCV reads, “The whole body depends on Christ, and all the parts of the body are joined and held together. Each part does its own work to make the whole body grow and be strong with love.” As we depend on Christ, we also learn to rely on each other because we become strong together. Paul would encourage the church in Rome, saying, “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them…” (12:6). Why? Because we need each other to make us complete as a body of believers! Right?
Interestingly, Vince Lombardi became one of the most revered coaches in all of football. He never had a losing season as head coach. The team that won only two games the previous season before becoming head coach went on to win the Western Conference the next year and five years later, one of three consecutive super bowls. It started with the basics. All those players knew what a football was, but for whatever reason, lost sight of what it was all about. Simple basics.
I suppose that Satan could use this chaos in which we find ourselves to distract and deter us. But maybe, just maybe, could God be using it to remind us of the basics. We are His body! And the truth is, we need each other. Thank You, Lord, for making us who we are and reminding us of that through Your word.