The church is pictured in the Bible as an army that the gates of hell shall not prevail against. It is a family, the household of faith. It is referred to as a bride, the bride of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12 the church is seen as a body, the body of Christ. The church is not a building, place, or event. It’s life! It is followers of Jesus doing life together! You can trace your successes and failures to the relationships in your life.
“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ” (v. 12). The church is one unit with many members forming one body. Many different parts make the body. Paul is talking about the church so why did he say “Christ,” not say the “Church”? He substitutes Christ for the Church to make the point that the two are inseparable. You cannot separate Christ from His church any more than you can separate the head from the body. Jesus is the head of His church! The only way to become part of the church is to be in Christ. We are in Christ and Christ is in us. We are all baptized into one body of Christ, regardless of race or social standing (v. 13). We all are united with people around the world we do not even know through the unity of the Spirit. Revelation 7:9 says the church is made up of “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne….” In John 17 Jesus prayed that we would be one as He and the Father are one, and it happens through the unity of the body.
Unity is not uniformity. God loves variety! Think about all the different flowers, trees, and animals. He made us different. We are different but not divided. In verses 14-25 Paul continues with his analogy of the body saying all parts are important! We need our eyes, hands, feet, ears, etc. They all have different functions, but all are important! Ever feel like you are nobody? If you feel unqualified and inadequate you are a great candidate to be used of God! Jesus took 12 blue-collar, average people and turned the world upside down. God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things! We have to each accept who we are in God’s divine plan and accept who we are not. No one person, no one group, can be the body without the rest of the body. Just like we have to get over our inferiority complex, we have to guard against a superiority complex as well. We need each other. We are not independent of each other but interdependent on each other.God puts the parts where He wants them. We are different, but we are not divided. The world without Jesus is killing each other. In the world differences lead to divisions, conflict, hatred, and prejudice. But we are not of this world. We are the Church! There should be no rivalry, no competition, no envy, no jealousy, only unity!
Verse 27 says, “Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.” So many people today have no concept of what it means to belong to a family. They have no sense of community. The chaos that is seen in the nuclear family can also be seen in the church family. People switch churches like they switch grocery stores! Individualism and consumerism are good for America but bad for the church. Just like a baby is born into a family, when we are born gain, God puts you in a family. Why be a member of a local church? In the New Testament every Christian joined with other Christians. That is why we believe in multi-sites. It keeps the church local. The New Testament was written to local churches to build up the local church. One brick does not make a house. One sheep does not make a flock. One individual does not make a family. One limb does not make a body. Membership is about relationships. Where does discipline take place? In the family. Where does worship take place? What about instruction? TV, radio, podcast ministries, etc. are a supplement not a substitute. Where do we serve? In the local church. We come to Christ individually, but we do life in Christ in community. Church membership apart from Christ is impossible.
Are you in Christ and using the gifts He’s given you to actively serve in the local church?