We, the church, are the spiritual body of Christ. God raised Jesus from the dead “and He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23). Ephesians 5:29-30 “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.” How wonderful that the Lord nourishes and cherishes you and me because we are members of His body, His church.
This analogy of the church to a physical human body helps us to understand how we should function as a church. Consider the following passage from 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 “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. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free – and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. 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.’ No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. 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. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.”
I wish to emphasize some of the attributes of the body as given to us in the preceding passage. First, we are all members of one body; just as a human body has many members such as hands, feet, ears, nose, legs, and other parts, even so, we are many members of Christ’s universal church. By one Spirit we were all baptized into this one body; baptism is how we each get into the body, His church. The body is not one, but many members. Because you are not like the other members, you are no less a part of the body. We all need each other. God has set the members in the body as He pleased. God has given greater honor to that part which lacks it. There should be no schism in the body. All the members should have the same care for one another. If one part suffers, we all suffer. If one part is honored, we all should rejoice. We each have our gift or ability. It is good to desire the best gifts, but the more excellent way is the way of love, as described in 1 Corinthians 13.
A parallel passage to 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 is given in Romans 12:3-8 “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” Here we learn that you should not think of yourself more highly that you ought to think, but to think soberly as God has given you his grace. All members do not have the same function. Since we have different gifts as God has given by His grace, we should be careful to appropriately use them so that the body will function well.
Consider one final passage about the body in Ephesians 4:15-16 “But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Here we learn that the whole body is joined and knit together. When every part does its share, there will be growth of the body through the edifying of itself in love.
Cherish the spiritual body of Christ of which you are a loved member. Use the gifts that God has given you to do your share.