The people of God, the Church, are compared to the human body throughout the New Testament. The Apostle Paul gives us this simple picture in his letter to the Church in the city of Rome. Romans 12:4-5 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, (5) so in Christ, we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. (NIV 2011)
Paul uses this image in his letter to the Church in the city of Ephesus, Colossae, and his most extended discussion is to the believers in Corinth. 1 Corinthians chapter 12 gives us this lengthy analysis of our roles with this group of people who follow Jesus. His climax is a statement that carries so much significance that we cannot discuss it all here. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (NIV 2011) Christians together form not just a body, but the body of Christ on earth.
The scriptures contain other images of the believers that compose a Church. They are a holy nation, a bride, and an army, to name a few. I think the most compelling is the idea that we are a body working together like human flesh. This is primarily true because we are all intimately familiar with the human body. We know its struggles, sicknesses, pleasures, and interconnectedness. We have experienced a bad back that kept us from working, and the way a simple kiss can leaving you feeling joy for days. Our knowledge of the body makes this one analogy so easy to understand, and yet we can overlook its importance.
There are two understandings of the believers being together, forming a body, that is important for us to remember.
- When one part doesn’t work, all the parts suffer.
For whatever reason, some parts of the body chose not to contribute. Sometimes they are absent and skip their connection with the body. Others have decided they have no desire to participate. Still, other people are too busy to give themselves to the work of the community of faith. When these people do not do what God has designed them to do, the rest of us suffer. An aching foot my not directly affect my hands, but it will keep me sidelined so that they will not be used in the game. Often people who are not an active part of a Church body do not think about how it impacts the rest of us.
- When one part succeeds, it blesses us all.
The flip side is also true. When all the parts of the body are united and work together, all the components receive a blessing. Competing in sport and winning, will help the heart, the muscles, along with blessing the mind. All the parts have an experience in the victory. When we work together in the name of Jesus, I am encouraged, challenged, and blessed by other people fulfilling their roles.
Nowhere is our part of the body more clearly seen than on Sunday morning each week as we gather to praise, serve, learn, teach, and work side by side in the name of Jesus. I hope you will be there, and you will do your part. It will be a blessing to everyone in ways you never imagined.