The Body of Christ

(Paul’s Letters)

As I waited on the Lord for my next article, I realized that spiritual truth can get “deep”,  We can get ethereal and lost in a bunch of words and thoughts.  Frank Work’s recent piece, “The Battle for the Kingdom Will Leave Scars”, addressed the nitty gritty of our lives.  It’s a war.  And as Pogo (that’s a comic strip) said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”  That is why the Lord provided the way of the cross.  As we die daily, it brings life to others.  Paul wrote, “Death works in us that life might work in you.”  The true apostle, one sent by the Lord Himself, knows Jesus Christ.  That one knows that his calling is to lay down his life, especially for fellow believers.  Beyond that, he offers life to all that he may meet.  My reference this time is to all of the letters Paul wrote to the church.  Much of his writing addresses believers relationship with one another.

Paul refers many times to the fact that we are a body.  And we are the body of Christ.  We are His very body.  After many years, the truth of this, the reality of it, sank into me.  This is not just an idea.  This fact will renew us in the spirit of our minds.  We are very members of Christ.  That is what Paul was saying to the Corinthians when he told them they can no longer go to harlots.  As I began to review the place where Paul addressed the Romans concerning being members of His body, the flow was interesting.  Read Romans 12 and he begins calling us to present our bodies as living sacrifices.  We are called to walk worthy, to be cleansed and stay clean.  He then goes on to encourage us to use the spiritual gifts that we have been given.

I will write it again.  We are members of the very body of Christ.  We are each connected directly to the head Himself.  The picture of the body seems to break down there but see it this way.  The natural nervous system transmits impulses to every part of the body.  So we all have those impulses flowing to each of us directly from Christ.  So John could write that each of us has no need of a teacher for we all have the teacher (the anointing), the Holy Spirit.  He gives each of us ears to hear.  It’s for us to use them, to pay close attention and follow His lead.

Paul has also written that the church (ecclesia) is His body.  The church, Christ’s church, is not an institution.  We have not fully learned how to administrate natural provision without creating another entity.  I do not mean this as criticism but simply as an observation.  We are learning to have true care for one another.  We lay down our lives and look to the interests of others and not just our own.  I have thought that Jesus is not returning for a collection of institutions but for those who love Him.  To the Ephesians, Paul wrote, we are one body (Eph. 4:4, 15, 16) and went on (Eph. 5:25-32) as he commented on marriage in comparison to Christ and the church.  Paul makes the profound statement that we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.  And He calls it a mystery.

We should be glad in that last statement because our minds, our natural ability to process and analyze cannot comprehend this truth.  Yet as it is revealed to us by the Spirit, it is a joy that we are so joined with Christ.  It is inseparable, a mighty work of God’s Spirit.  But it must be walked out by putting off all our old ways, all the behaviors incited by our selfish desires.  How we need to walk in and by the Spirit; in close union and relationship with the Lord.  Remember, Paul was introduced to this fact on that road to Damascus as the Lord Jesus said, “Why are you persecuting me?”  Jesus was stating this fact that He was joined to His own, His disciples.  If someone harms us, they harm Christ.  And if we harm one of His own, we harm Him.

To the Colossians, Paul referred to the church being His body (Col. 1:18, 24).  So these thoughts are different expressions or sides of the same thing.  This is our identity.  These words are an expression of aspects of our identify from God.  This is why we need to honor and care for one another.  We are members of Christ, not as members of some institution, or organization but of a living thing.  We can nurture one another, or, as we are warned, we can bite and devour one another.  So let us focus on how we can build each other up.  In doing so we strengthen the church to be the lampstand and shine His light into the world.  He has called us to be that for such a time as this.