Body Life

In 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, the inspired apostle Paul likens the church, the spiritual body of Christ, to a physical body. “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).

He explains that each member is different and has differing functions within the body (vv. 17 & 19). All members are connected with one another and no one stands alone or functions apart from the rest of the body (vv. 15-16). Not only are all members interrelated, they are also interdependent. In other words, we need each other! (vv. 21-22).

We also need to be reminded that it is God who designs, arranges and orchestrates the process of body function. “But now God has set the members, each one of them (all are important), in the body just as He pleased” (v. 18). Yes, according to our loving Father “those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary” (v. 22). As the 19th century poet Longfellow observed: “Nothing useless is, or low; each thing in its place is best; and, what seems but idle show, strengthens and supports the rest” (The Builders).

So, Paul gives us this practical and indelible picture of the Lord’s church, with all members harmoniously working together to allow the body to function in an active and healthy way. And since God is the one who has composed the body and set the members in the body (vv. 18 & 24), we need to learn how to get along—for His glory (Eph 3:21 & 5:21).

This is why Paul strongly admonishes, “with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering (much patience), bear with (forbear; endure; hold up; put up with) one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph 4:2-3). And again, “as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies (a heart of compassion), kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering (patience); bearing with (being tolerant of) one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do (Col 3:12-13).

We all have our unique (and sometimes annoying) personalities, proclivities and idiosyncrasies. We each have our own set of shortcomings and faults that we struggle with. In the practical sense, none of us is perfect. If Jesus taught that we should love our enemies and pray for them (and He did – Mt 5:43-48), how much more should we love and pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ?

We close with a probing and penetrating question from John, followed by a command from the inspired apostle. “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 Jn 4:20-21). May God help us to faithfully fulfill this command.

Terry Schmidt

03-11-18

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