Short Meditations on the Body of Christ: 1. The Church, his body
Eph 1:22,23 the church, which is his body
Some today may take this concept for granted, but for others it is either new or foreign. I can remember the first person I heard teaching on ‘the body’, an itinerant preacher called Campbell McAlpine, and it was back in the closing decades of the twentieth century. Since then, through the charismatic movement in those same decades, its teaching filled out some more, and yet it is, I believe, as relevant today, if not more so in a day when frequently it appears ‘church’ or ‘religion’, that fills so many TV channels, is presented so often by suited men in expensive settings, conveying a religion that is ‘success’ and ‘try harder’ orientated, a poor reflection of the wonder of what is conveyed in the New Testament.
Perhaps we try too hard and on the world’s terms, and then wonder why in the West at least so many denominations continue to diminish with their obituaries being prophesied by the pollsters. The church is not big buildings or big organisations, it is not TV stations or radio studios, it is not individual ‘big people’ with big incomes and ‘big ministries’, it is all the believers who, corporately, and to use the concept we are going to follow and meditate upon from the New Testament, are referred to as ‘the body of Christ’. In fact, as we go on in the days ahead, we will see that every single, humble believer is a member or part of this ‘body’.
Now right from the outset, let’s state what will become obvious as we look in detail at what the New Testament has to say, that the picture of ‘a body’ is used to convey thoughts about the life, action and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are two other concepts that are used to refer to the church in the New Testament. The first is ‘a temple’: “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1 Cor 3:16 etc.) and that is all about revealing the glory of God. The other picture is of a bride (Rev 19:7,8, 21:2) which is all about being united with Christ at the end.
But the concept of the ‘body’ is all about doing: “when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me… Then I said, `Here I am… I have come to do your will, O God.” (Heb 10:5-7) The ‘doing’ is the will of God. We see it in the Gospels as, through one single human body, Jesus served the will of God as he brought in the kingdom of God on earth, and then the teaching of US being his ongoing body being worked out is seen in the rest of the New Testament. Put aside all thoughts of buildings, organizations etc. YOU, the believer, are part of this body.