1 Corinthians 1:9—God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 3:21-23—Therefore let no one boast in men. For all things are yours: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are yours. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.
Where do you start when you take on a tough church that is riddled with multiple problems? If you were a church consultant in Corinth, what would you say first?
After the Apostle’s greeting and thanksgiving for their gifts, he reminded them of the core calling at the center of their existence . . .
“You were called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord.” Corinth had proud attitudes and permissive actions because they forgot Who was to be the center of their fellowship and the source of their fruitfulness.
They had also made their shepherds into celebrities and chosen their favorites, hoping for the success that great leadership brings.
Again, Paul points out, “All are yours, and you are Christ’s and Christ is God’s.” I love to relate to a church, small or large, that if they have Jesus, they have everything they need to be all that God intended for them to be. Corinth had forgotten that the life of Jesus was the life of their church.
Thinking organically gets lost in our quest for speedy results, but to understand it and practice it allows us as a church to bear our fruit in our seasons and establish a root system which stabilizes and nourishes the body season after season.
To think organically is to know that the life within (Christ) must become the life without (Christlikeness) and that He is intimately available to become in us all that He expects out of us!
The most important part of church life is its spiritual root system that draws on the hidden resources we have in Christ (Colossians 2:7).
The number one problem with most churches is what I have identified as defective abiding. We have ignored the root system and have looked to man-made cisterns that are broke and can hold no water.
Also, fruit is not the same as results because fruit has in it the seed for more fruit. Fruit comes from life, the life of God flowing in and through us by the Holy Spirit. Let’s consider four organic images in Scripture which help us understand life within becoming the life without.
Having grown up on the farm, I learned first-hand the value of good seed. I also learned that every little seed had to die if we were to have a crop.
The mystery of Christ in us the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27) is the seed. His presence in us is the hope of glory to come for the church and the hope of glory now in the church. As we die out, He comes forth. The results are glorious. This is where dying becomes living (John 12:24), and our lives are replaced by His.
Head and body verses describing Christ and the church also convey the idea of an organism. As the physical body cannot live without the head, neither can a church live without a healthy connection with her Head (Ephesians 4:15-16; Colossians 2:18-19). We are instructed to be “holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God” (Colossians 2:19).
Here the Head (Christ) nourishes the believing body with His life and increases the body in sort and size according to His design. This is another organic reality. The key here is to have the body carefully attend to the prayer connection and submission to the Head. There is no spiritual growth for the body apart from union with the Head, Christ. Our lives are nourished by His.
This is the supernatural process where our lives are transformed by His. Think of this like the butterfly, caterpillar, back to butterfly process in nature. I love 2 Corinthians 3:18:
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
This is where “beholding” is “becoming.” Here we learn that the church looks like what it looks at. We are transformed into His image as we gaze into His life in His word. Therefore, let the church have no other fascination.
No doubt one of the best descriptions of the organic nature of the relationship between believers and Jesus is the Vine in John 15:
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
In this illustration, our lives bear fruit by His, and abiding becomes fruitful. Everything we dream of for our church is found here: fruit, more fruit, much fruit, lasting fruit, friendship with Christ, fullness of joy, and powerful praying flow from effective abiding (as opposed to defective abiding).
This is the opposite of the way that we normally think, and by its very nature demands our undivided attention because Jesus said, “Without Me you can do nothing.” There is no other way.
As we learn to think organically and let Jesus lead out of the presence of His life, we need to ask:
How does this effect my leadership concerns?
How does this regulate ministry priorities, functions, and structures?
Does this say something about regenerate church membership?
Where does evangelism fit in the organic idea?
Simply remember the church worships Christ and serves Christ like Christ out of the riches of Christ. That’s thinking organically.