The Church Which Is His Body
(1Cor. 12:27, Eph. 5:22-33, Col. 1:24)
The Lord has given various pictures of the church through the scriptures, the Bible, and by parallel understanding by the Spirit,. By church, I mean the ecclesia, the called out people who are gathered to God through Christ. To be part of this gathering necessarily includes an individual hearing of the call of God and our response. When Abraham was one I called him, says the Lord. And Abraham went out not knowing where he was going. The journey was not a straight line. The Lord led him and through his single son, Isaac, he made of Abraham a great nation. Do you hear the foreshadow of Christ Jesus and us, His nation of kings and priests?
One of those pictures given us is the church as the body of Christ. While we refer to it as a picture it is an awesome reality. Of God are we in Christ. He Himself has done this, joined us by His Spirit to Christ. Having been born of heaven, we are one Spirit with Him now. Our souls are being saved. We are being transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are growing together to be that body that God purposed from before the foundation of the world, of the cosmos. As we increase in our spiritual life, we experience that His body is not a mere concept but a reality of our lives. We relate to one another as we pass through much trouble in this life to enter the kingdom. We enter into experience of the flow of life, that which every joint of His body supplies.
Paul addresses this in different ways. Consider the Corinthians, with whom he dealt sharply yet graciously. He compared their “giftings” as parts of a body, teaching them to honor every part, allowing room for each to express itself. (1 Cor. 12 & 13) Yet all was to be done in love, true love, which never seek its own status. To the Ephesians, he acknowledges the flow of life as speaking the truth in love. (Eph. 4: 15-16) In the first reference below the title of this message, Paul plainly writes, “You are the body of Christ, and each members of it.” That is an amazing statement. He does not say you should merely think of yourselves as members of Christ’s body. Now pondering this and meditating on this is important, very much so. That is the beginning of it becoming part of us. But consider that this is more than an idea. It is a fact greater than the earth upon which we stand.
By His Spirit, as faith works in us who believe, God’s intention becomes our reality, our walk. We do His will spontaneously without trying. The Spirit carries us if you will. Our intention is important but only as it lines up with His intention. John wrote in his gospel and then his letters thoughts such as these. “If we say He abides in us, we ought to walk even as He walked.” (1 John 2:6, my paraphrase) And when he wrote of the Lord, he said, “The Word (Christ) became flesh and dwelt among us.” As we receive, meditate, and spiritually digest the Word which He is, that same transaction occurs in us. The result is we walk as He walked, yet imperfectly.
Don’t let your imperfections, your failures, your sins, discourage you and take you out. You are a member of Him if you have believed and received Him. Don’t be lured from the simplicity that is in Christ. (2 Cor. 11:3) By this I mean that His death and resurrection are enough for sins to be washed away; that means gone! And enough for you to walk in resurrected, brand new creation life. If your own heart condemns you, God is greater than your heart. (1 John 3:20-21) The Lord by His blood washes away the condemnation and we have confidence toward God so we can move and cooperate with Him. Let His spirit encourage you after every failure as you turn to Him. That is repentance. Read again how Jesus met Peter on the beach after Peter’s denials at the crucifixion. Peter’s experience of failure broke his self-reliance. I have known this sort of experience many times. In a way I have known this daily. I began to understand that we can live at the Lord’s table. That may make us think of communion. The Lord Jesus, and Paul, specifically told us to take bread and wine to remember Jesus Christ.
This is important and I understand many who follow the Lord are doing this daily. I have mentioned before a pastor, Thom Gardner, who has written concerning our family relationships that we come to the table without our personal agenda. This thought applies to our relationship with the Lord also. I heard a message here in Frederick, MD which focused on Mephibosheth. He was a relative of Saul, who had sought to kill David. Mephibosheth had been injured as a child and was lame ever since. David, to honor his friend Jonathan, Saul’s son, and Saul’s family, sought out Mephibosheth. That lame man was brought to David’s table and lived out his days in the house of the King. Such is the love of our Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus has called us into fellowship with Himself and with our Father. This is eternal life. By His Spirit we have been made members of His body. As we grow in this reality, His very life flows through us. In this His body is strengthened and grows into that mature man. Yes, as we have many pictures, that new man is also displayed as the bride of Christ. May we grow in the understanding that we are His being matured into one new man that will be the bride that satisfies the bridegroom. As Eve was drawn from Adam’s side, the bride was drawn from His, and now grows, as the Lord adds to her members, and we together we become the one He waits for. This is a mystery as Paul wrote but it is now revealed in us, Christ, the hope of glory.