September 2, 2012 by nathanodell
The purpose of a physical body is to give our personality an expression. In the same way, the body of Christ – us – gives Christ an expression to the world. (For more on the purpose of the body click here.) However, in order for the purpose of the body to be fulfilled, there needs to be a body that is healthy and functioning. In this blog post we will look at what a functioning body looks like and how we as members of that body should function.
Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians dealt with various issues in the Church and many of these issues were related to the functioning of the Body. We also see this in many of his other letters where he had a deep love and concern for the proper functioning of the body. At this point there are a few questions we should ask ourselves: Why was Paul so concerned about different local Churches and their functioning? Why didn’t Paul just be happy with the fact that the Corinthians had received salvation? Why did he so often go back to visit the churches and write letters to them?
One part of the answer to these questions can be seen in Christ’s love for His church.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. – Eph. 5:25-32
Firstly, Christ died in order to obtain a Church that was without spot or blemish. He did this because He wanted a beautiful bride who would be joined to Himself as one flesh. Now that we are joined to Him, how can He hate His own flesh? We are members of His body and He nourishes and cherishes His body. To summarize – The Church as the body of Christ is extremely important to the Lord! If this is the case then it is no wonder that Paul had a deep concern for the Churches. The Lord definitely does not desire a crippled body that does not function according to His purpose and desire. Furthermore, salvation was not the end goal of Christ’s death, but rather through salvation He would obtain a bride and body which woud be His glorious expression and enjoyment. Paul’s love and care for the body was Christ’s love and care for His Church.
Let us look at some of the main themes in Paul’s letters regarding the functioning of the body.
Christ the Head of the Body (Eph 1:22-23, 4:15, Col. 1:18, 2:19) –
The body functions when it is connected to the Head – Christ. The body cannot function when it is not connected to the Head. If we do not hold fast to the Head we will not be able to function and grow as His body. All instruction for the functioning of the body comes from the Head. If you read Pauls letters they are full of Christ – literally every few lines He is talking about Christ. Every issue He addresses he points to the person of Christ as the solution. Christ must be our all in all otherwise we cannot hope to function as His body. Christ is so rich and He alone supplies and nourishes His body. It is sad to see that Christ is more of a footnote in modern Christianity. People think that Christ gave them salvation, and now they need to move onto greater and more spiritual things. Let me say this my friends – This is not the Christ Paul preached. The Christ Paul preached was magnificent and breathtaking. The only thing Paul ever spoke about was Christ because he knew that all the fullness of God and all the riches of wisdom are found in Christ. There are no spiritual riches outside of Christ. Read Ephesians and Colossians chapter 1 to get a taste of the Christ that Paul knew. Brothers and sisters, let us resolve to know nothing except Christ and let us hold fast to the Head.
The many members of the body (Rom 12:4-5, 1 Cor. 12:12) –
“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.” Rom 12:4-5.
If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And 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…
But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” 1 Cor. 12:15-26
A body functions when all the parts are working together. For example, if your lungs fail, you will most likely die. Simply put – the body needs each member to function properly to express the fullness of Christ. This means that we must have a deep care for one another because we are all one body in Christ. This also means that every member of the body must be given a place to function. As Paul says, there is not only one member in the body. Sadly, a large portion of modern day Christianity has only a select few functioning as members of the body while others are passive onlookers. The body is intended to be a corporate expression of Christ – a priesthood of all believers. Christ is fully expressed when all the members are functioning. Even the members that seem insignificant – Christ has a deep love and desire to function through them. Paul highlights the every member functioning in 1 Corinthians 14:26:
What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
There are many more things to say regarding the functioning of the body, but this post has become long so I will end off with one of my favourite scriptures which summarizes this blog post:
but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Eph 4:15-16
Lord Jesus, let us hold fast to you the Head and remember that each member functioning allows you to have a corporate expression. We love you Jesus.