The Church as the Body of Christ|
Page 4: Some Implications Within the Body
Christ and the body
The above are just two organizational implications of the church-body relationship as we have seen in the New Testament, and examples of how things have gone awry in other "churches." But there are also things to consider in applying this metaphor to the true body of Christ, His church.
- Independent Christian syndrome - Sometimes an individual Christian, for one reason or another, will grow negative toward the church, and decide he or she does not need to associate with them. "I don't need the church," he might say, or, "The church isn't that important. I just need Jesus." Hello? Can you reject the body but keep the head? We must keep in mind that Christ considered His church so important that He gave up His life for her; who are we to say otherwise?
- Who calls the shots - As we already saw, the body is in submission to the head. Consider your own physical body. It is through the head that the body receives air to breathe, food and water to survive, vision to guide its steps, and hearing to sense its surroundings. It is from the head (the brain) that the body's movements are masterfully controlled. Now consider Christ and the church. Who controls the church? Who guides the church? For the church to be its own source of guidance, vision, direction and life is like a body trying to control itself apart from the brain. The church must follow its head, rely on its head. This involves being dedicated in faithful submission and abiding in the guidance and direction of Christ (John 8:31-32). There are too many churches out there trying to be the church, but they are not the body that is connected to the head. They are lost, like a decapitated chicken whose body keeps running. They might think they are getting somewhere, but without the true head as their source, they will fall over dead sooner or later. We, as the church, must stand firm in who we are, and whose we are. We belong to the head, Christ.
- The headless horseman - Along these lines, what happens if the head is separated from the body? It's dead. It's no mistake that decapitation is a time-tested manner of putting a body to death. You don't have to lay a finger on the body; all you must do is separate its connection to the head, and the body is instantly useless and dead. So it is with the church of Christ. Without the head -- Christ -- the church is just any other group of people. It is the head that gives it not only identity, but also life (eternal, especially), purpose, direction and hope. Christ has promised that nobody can cut us off from Him against our will (Romans 8:35-39). But He leaves His body with the free will, the choice, of whether to remain in Him or not. In other words, nobody and nothing can sever the body of Christ from the head except the body itself, by its own choosing. The religious term for this is apostasy -- to leave Christ, His teaching, His "headship."
Members of the one body
Regarding those within the one body, there is much Biblical discussion on our relationship with one another as members, or individual parts, that make up the whole body. This, too, is a subject that can be discussed more thoroughly on its own.
In short, we can summarily say that it is crucial for the body to cooperate with itself, for the parts to function in harmony and health. Practically speaking, this involves avoiding bickering, quarreling, and selfish treatment of each other. It also involves keeping each other in line in a loving and caring way, and keeping each other spiritually balanced and strong. It is fitting for us to close this discussion with a quote from the New Testament that captures the essence of this idea:
"But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, 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." Ephesians 4:15-16