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You Are Christ's Body

Sometimes when we study the Bible doctrine regarding the church, we may perceive the church too much in distant theoretical and technical concepts.  We must be careful lest we make the study of the church seem like the pursuit of an unattainable goal.  As a local congregation of Christians, we may never reach perfection as an ideal model of Christ’s church, but that does not mean that we cannot be His church.

 

Certainly, the church at Corinth was far from being a fully mature and complete church of Christ when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians.  To this divisive and carnal congregation, he wrote, “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to babes in Christ” (1Cor. 3:1).  Yet, he also declared to them without reservation, “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it” (1Cor. 12:27).  Thus, we see that even though they had many serious problems and needed sharp rebuke by Paul, he still considered them to be the body of Christ at Corinth.

 

Please understand that Paul’s recognition of the church at Corinth by no means endorsed the errors in their practices.  Much of 1 Corinthians was written to correct the church and direct them back to unity in Christ through the word of God, upon which they were founded.  They had started well when Paul taught them the gospel, having believed and having been baptized according to the word of God (Acts 18:1-11).  However, they had drifted into error for which Paul sought to correct them.

 

Now let us consider why it was important for the Corinthians to understand that they were the body of Christ and individually members of it (1Cor. 12:12-31).  This realization gives a proper sense of function, responsibility, and relationship.  Some of the Corinthians were using their individual abilities for their own individual exaltation.  Instead, they needed to understand their proper roles within the church, in which they were to be like the various parts of a human body working together so that the whole body could function.  Just as each part of the body has a unique function but cannot function outside of the body, so also each Christian has unique abilities but cannot function outside of the church.

 

We must appreciate what this means for us.  The statement “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it” makes the church a personal matter for every Christian.  This is saying to us, “You are the church.”  Therefore, the success or failure of the local church depends on you.  Whether the church grows or flounders, whether it stays unified or divides, and whether it pleases God or becomes a disgrace depends on you, dear Christian.

 

Therefore, take some ownership in the responsibilities of the local church.  Don’t say, “They need to do this or that,” but rather say, “We need to do this or that.”  Borrowing from President Kennedy, ask not what the church can do for you, but rather ask what you can do for the church.  If you are not committed to a local church, then it is time for you to get yourself involved.  Just as there are no part-time members of the human body, neither should there be any part-time members of the church.

 

“Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.”  As the members go, so goes the church.  What an honor it is to be counted as a member of the body of Christ.  Let us treat membership in His body as an honor and not as a burden.  Take seriously your place as a functioning member of His body, and do your part to make the local church glorious as it should be.

 

Stacey E. Durham




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