For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Rom. 12:4-5.
1. The Church is a Body
The church is here compared to a body – For as in one body… so we, though many, are one body in Christ. The comparison is so close because the reference to the church being a body is in the verse twice. We need to ask ourselves what is a body? How does a body look like and how does it function?
A body is an independently functioning unit. It manufactures some of what is needed and synthesizes it for its use and what it does not need will eject out. It moves and responds to different stimuli differently. These are some of the characteristics of the body and they indicate the independency of the church. It reproduces young ones after its kind. It protects itself from enemies and feeds.
This means that it is dependent on food for sustenance – the Word of God is the food of this body. We as Christians are told, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4). We are told,”Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1Pet 2:2).
This church grows and is strengthened – “from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” (Eph 4:16) This is body can be unhealthy when it is not functioning properly. Sadly the church can be up to the point of death when her works are not complete in the sight of God (Rev 3:2-3).
When members come together to begin a church, they are to aware of what they are coming to be. They are coming to belong to a body. There coming to be a unit that cares and loves another. They are in covenant for the cause of the Kingdom of God. They are to know their vision and mission. They are to be of one mind and one accord as the early church is said to have been of the same mind.
There are times of joy and great victory – they are to be grateful to the Lord for such times and use the time to build the Kingdom of God more. These are times when there is great love for one another. There is a great attempt to be in fellowship and to edify one another. These are times of unity and great success – when members are giving themselves fully to the work of the Lord. We are to be wise in such times and heed Joseph’s advice like the Egyptian Pharaoh and store up for the difficulty times.
But there are also times of great difficulties. There are times when there is different of opinion or there is sin. You are never to leave a church at times of difficulties because then you are not committed to be of help in trouble to the church. Unless a church is teaching heresy always be there for the church – even when the pastor is in sin, keep on and pray for him, involve other brethren and bring him back to faith. Sometimes he is disqualified from the work as a result but always do everything possible to make sure that the church is functioning properly.
1) Are you a believer?
2) Are you a member of a church?
2. Christians are Members of the church
What is the constitution of the church? We read that, “For as in one body we have many members… so we, though many, are one body in Christ” What makes up the body is the organs joined up together. In the same manner the church is body composed of different organs or members. There are many members who make up a church – usually two or three gathered for the sake of the Name of Christ (Matt. 18:20).
Each one member though very important, is not the body. The body is the union of a number of members. These members are united in Christ who has saved them and brought them together to belong to Him. This mystical union then would be compared to the manner in which the branches are joined to the stem. The Lord says that He is the vine; you are the branches. (John. 15:5). When the Lord saves, He makes us to be alive ‘in Christ’ (Rom. 6:11).
This union makes individual members to be one of another so anything that happens to one happens to all. Though there are many members each is a part of the whole so that one cannot be exclusive of the other. Paul very well gets the analogy of the body and this is what he says,
“For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you," nor again the head to the feet, "I have no need of you." On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1Co 12:14-27)
Therefore, each one of the members is a part of the body for a particular function. You are to be aware that you have been given gifts and abilities for the service in the body. No one is without anything to do that would build the church. No one is not endowed with spiritual gift to be of ministry to the church. We are all to edify one another and this is because we have been given different abilities, talents and gifts that make the body to function very well. If you are the ‘eye of the church’ then you ought not to neglect your gift. You must dispense your gift with the ability and diligence in which the Lord has given you. Otherwise if you are not actively involved in the life of the church then there will be adverse consequences for the whole church.
Every member is needed by the church to use the gift that the Lord has given him accordingly so that if it is according to the grace given to us. We are to use them well so that the church is properly functioning: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. (Rom 12:6-8). This is for the purpose of building up one another in love. It is the way God has ordained that each believer, as living stone is being built up to be living temple of God (1Peter 2:5). A lot of bearing with one another is needed in the church.
1) What are you doing for the church?
2) What profit will you present before the Lord at the last Day?
3) Do you think you are a faithful servant before the Lord?
3. The Church is of Christ
Who is the owner of this body? Who makes it what it is? Is the pastor? Is it the members? Who is the owner of the church? The members we read are one body in Christ. Remember that Christ is the Head of His church (Eph. 5:23). There is no question that He is the Owner, knowing that you were ransomed … not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot (1Pet. 1:18-19).
He paid the price for us by His own blood to redeem us from sin. He has by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation (Rev. 5:9). The church of Christ is His own for you were bought with a price. (1Cor. 6:20). There is no question about the payment that has been made By Christ - You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.(1Cor. 7:23).
This is being the case, we are to glorify Him and worship for what He has done for us. We belong to the church because we are those who have been redeemed from our sins by the Lord Jesus Christ. The effect of this truth is insurmountable gratefulness, leading to worship unbridled. The hosts of heaven never cease to worship Christ for His atoning work on the cross. We are to do the same – worship Him and declare His glory among the nations (Psalm 96).
It is for this reason that when one believes, is baptized into Christ – it is in the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. It is being buried with Christ in baptism; and being raised with Him to the newness of life in Christ. When we are baptized, yes we proclaim publically what has taken place in us by declaring that we now belong to Christ. When we have been baptized we added to the local church – the church of Jesus Christ.
It is because the church belongs to Christ that He is the head and so the pastors are to be accountable to Him and not the bishop or pope. It is because the church belongs to the Lord that we live in His presence. It is because the church belongs to Christ – the unblemished Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world that we are to live a holy life because He who called us is holy. It is because the church is of Christ that we are to honor Him only do His will.
Yes the church is of Christ and we would do well to conduct ourselves like those who belong to another. We are the slaves of Christ in a very positive way – grateful slaves. He is the faithful and gracious Master. He is the One who wishes the best welfare for us. He is the One who has our care at heart.
Having known what is church and its relation to us and to Christ, then what sort of persons ought we to be? We are belong to be members one of another. This means that we are to love one another. We are to care for one another, both spiritually and materially. When we meet we are to seek to encourage one another in spiritual talk. To visit one another regularly and do (practically giving to the needs of others).What we say – how we should encourage one another (2Tim. 1:16-18), instruct one another (Acts 24-28), Reprove one another (Gal 2:11), Pray for one another (Phil. 1:4), Share our experiences with one another (Rom. 12:13)
The fact that we should exercise forbearance and patience shows that this is a duty of prime importance and we cannot afford to ignore it. It is a priority that a body should have mouth to feed it as well as do the talking. Would you imagine any other organ, say an eye saying to the rest of the members that we don’t need the mouth? What if the whole body was an eye? Would it not be disastrous?
Let us make a covenant be part of one another with Christ as the Head. Let us seek to edify one another and the effect would be the Lord Jesus Christ would be glorified.