Many Members, One Body.
What we so often see within many Christian congregations today that we call Church, falls far short of the pattern set forth in the scriptures. It seems that something is lacking among many professing Christians, namely, the close knit fellowship and unity that we read of in the Acts of the Apostles, and the epistles.
Paul, in his first letter to the Church in Corinth, reveals that the body of Christ is diverse, that is, made up of many members. Each individual within the body is uniquely different, yet essential to the whole. Paul portrays a tight knit fellowship where each individual is important, no matter what their function is within the body. What one individual may be going through, is felt by the others in the body. They are bound together by a deep love that reaches out to one another in sincerity, unlike the shallowness that we so often experience in Churches across America today.
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. (1 Cor 12:12-27 KJV)
Called To Love.
We are called to love, as those who have been transformed by the new birth. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and everyone that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8 KJV) If we are truly followers of Christ, love will be the natural outflowing of our lives. If it is not, according to this statement, we do not know God!
Fervent love for one another is the mark of a true disciple of Christ (John 13:35). Love is a genuine care for the needs of another. This was made manifest by the early Church after the day of Pentecost.
And all that believed were together, and had all things in common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. (Acts 2:44-45 KJV)
This love is the outflow of the Holy Spirit within the believer, as seen in Gal 5:22-23,
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
These traits become reality in our lives as we yield to the working of the Holy Spirit within us as individuals, and allow them to work out in our relations with one another in the body of Christ.
In writing to the believers in Colosse, Paul exhorts them to mercy, kindness, humility, meekness, and longsuffering. As Christians, we are to be forgiving of one another within the body of Christ, and above all of these things, we are to put on charity (Love), which is the bond of perfectness (Col 3:12-14). This is the only way that it can work! Christ calls us to set aside our own selves for the sake of the others within the body. Only as we humble ourselves, and give preference to others, will we find ourselves living in the unity of the Spirit (Romans 12:10; Phil 2:4).
Christ, our example of humility.
Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. (Phil 2:2-8 KJV)
Christ is our perfect example of humility. If we are to be of one mind with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ; if we are to look out for the interests and well being of each other, even putting others first, we must look to Christ, and humble ourselves. Jesus teaches us that true greatness lies in humility. The one who would be the greatest, must become the servant of all (Mark 9:35).
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. (1 Peter 5:5-7 KJV)
Again, we see the importance of humility underscored. We also see that if we are not humble, but rather give way to pride, we cut ourselves off from the grace of God that we so desperately need if we would see the Church walking in unity and love.
There should be no one left out, no one lacking what is truly needful, no one lonely and hurting within the body of Christ. We are called to look our for one another, giving of ourselves to promote the well being of each other, and ultimately striving for the gospel in Christ Jesus.