** And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. ** John 6:2
It takes all kinds of people to build a church. Each kind is essential. Each adds its necessary ingredient to the life of the church. Each one brings its own unique qualities.
The largest group of people who form a church are those that are part of the multitude. They are so important to any ministry because they fill the seats and they help pay the bills. More importantly, they bring energy and humanness to every church service, event and activity. They are the ones that bring the family atmosphere, the ‘buzz’ of excitement. They are promoters that bring more to the multitude. They help the other groups to keep pressing on.
The downside of this group is that they can get easily distracted. If the excitement wanes, so does their attendance. If the community atmosphere gets a little dull, they start looking for somewhere more interesting to go. When trials, problems or accountability issues pop up, they tend to be the first ones to find the exits. This group is there for the happy moments. The easy paths. The satisfying moments.
The multitude is a great asset to any church, but it is also its weakest link.
** And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: ** Matthew 5:1
The second group are the disciples. They are the ones that the Lord chooses out of the multitude. But they are also the ones that want to get closer to the action. Not for the action’s sake, but for the sake of learning. They want to know more. They want to know how. They want to know why. And they want to get up close and personal. They want to dig deeper. They want to be present and keep on when the crowds dissipate and the fun is over.
They are the ones that stay the course on the tough days. They are the ones who have questions about everything. They are the hungry ones. They don’t want to miss anything. Not an event. Nor a single word that the Master has to say. Even if they have no clue what He is saying, and what it means for them. But they want to find out.
The disciples are the ones that walk with Him. They watch, listen, learn and teach others what they learn. They want to be like the Master. They want to absorb all they can so they can share all they can. They desire depth, meaning, and purpose. And they find it all following the Master.
This is key. The multitudes have no master other than themselves. They love the community but they are quick to forsake it when they find something more interesting. The disciples are steadfast. They are faithful, rain or shine. They accept leadership.
The complication with the disciples is…Who are they following? The True Master, or his representative? Are they disciples of Christ, walking the road of suffering that He walked? Are they leaning solely on Him for their direction and purpose? Or are they following another human that sooner or later will fail them and cause their faith to fail? Have they attached themselves to a cause or to the Source of the cause? Every true disciple has to face this dilemma. Man or Master? Leaders or Sovereign God?
** But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. ** 1 Corinthians 2:10
The last group is the Inner Circle. The Peters, James’ and John’s.
The Peters are the impulsive and volatile ones. They are up close and personal with the Lord but they tend to overreact, be harsh, and forget to yield to His Sovereignty and wisdom. They tend to struggle with their own ego. And they count too much on the very tangible presence of the Lord. When the Peters can’t make sense of what is happening in their life, or they lose their connection with the Lord, they run back to their old life and get stuck until they have a fresh encounter with Jesus Christ.
The James’ are quieter, more reflective, faithful and diligent. They are always in the right place and at the right time. They see and learn things like the Peters do, things that the multitude may never understand. But they stay in the background, observing and processing the lessons to be learned. They have a deep commitment to the Lord, but it is more private than the Peters’ commitment. They are steadfast and tend to think more before they speak.
The final group is the John’s. They are the emotional, sentimental, heartfelt, inner circle disciples. They feel every step of the path that the Lord gives them. They are David’s. They lean hard into Him. But they struggle to separate their emotions from their purpose. They are there for those transfiguring moments, the “I can’t believe my eyes” moments along with the Peters and the James’. But they do not respond impulsively or reflectively, they are too caught up in the worship, the overwhelming emotions. They respond with tears, sensitivity, and reverence to each word, and to each challenge.
Each group, from the multitude to the inner circle, are needful for any church body. They make the church complete. Each one brings their particular characteristics and gifts to the table. Together they represent the fullness of the Body of Christ, and the opportunity to live peaceably, side-by-side, worshiping and serving the Master together, each in his own way, giving the world a living picture of the Kingdom of God.
** till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: ** Ephesians 4:13
Each of us needs to know, or to decide, what kind of Christian we are, and use our individual gifts for the strengthening of the Body of Christ.