1 Corinthians 12: 12-30 tells us that the Church is the body of Christ. That each individual of that church has a role to play that is different but as essential as other roles. Paul makes his metaphor clear as he lists the different roles that make up the Church: the apostle, the prophet, the teacher, the minister of healing, the administrator and the speaker of tongues are all equally important to the life of the Church. Nowadays we include, the technician, the musician, the welcomer, the caterer, the cleaner etc to that list of body members.
But I want to talk about the BODY of Christ in a more literal sense as to what the Church should possess, in order to represent Christ to the world. Verse 20 says “As it is, there are many parts, but ONE body”. We all have a role to play within the church, but more that that – we all make up one body.
There are different parts of the body that I would like to concentrate on but they are not exclusive as to what the church should represent. The body contains a heart, a brain, a face, hands, legs, a digestive system and reproductive organs. In this first part, I will concentrate on the heart, brain and face. In the second part I will look at hands, legs, guts and genitals.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23
The heart is arguably the most important part of a body. Without it the body is dead. And the same goes for the church. Without a heart the church will die. But what is the heart of a church? This is a simple answer. The heart of any church is and should be GOD! Everything comes from God, everything should be about God and everything should be for the Glory of God. Just as the heart feeds every part of the body by the pumping of blood, so we rely on God for our sustenance and oxygen.
Psalm 37:4 says “Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart”. When a church makes God the centre and purpose of it’s existencethen we begin to see God causing the church to be fruitful and effective.
As well as being a physical part of the body, the heart is also conceptual. We look into the heart of someone, meaning we look at who that person is. We are not God! I just want to clarify that that is not what I am saying. But we are created in His image. And we are commanded to become like Jesus, through the power of the Holy Spirit. The heart of a church, therefore, should be one that pursues the likeness of Jesus. To delight in worshipping God with genuine awe and wonder of the King of kings.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:2
The brain is a very important part of a body. It controls a body’s movement and vital organs; it enables communication; it helps a body to develop from a child into an adult both physically and emotionally.
In the body of Christ, our brain is the Word of God. We rely on scripture for direction, vision, discernment, and development. But a church’s growth is dependent on all it’s members to be influenced and connected to the Word. Thinking of Paul’s examples of different members of the body – if an apostle is not reliant on the bible, the church has no vision; if a teacher is not reliant on the bible, the church will not grow. And so it is will all members that make up the body. If a member of the body is not connected with the bible, it will be useless.
1 Peter 3:15 says “but in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect”.
We need to know and understand scripture. All of us – not just those who deliver the sermons. (Especially if you have been going to church for some time, yet can’t remember anything from any sermon – wake up!) People who are outside of the body, may have questions. Questions about God, questions about why the Church does such and such, questions about personal faith. We all need to answers that point to Jesus. That requires us to know scripture.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3:18
Every face is different. It is the primary way we recognise one another and some of us can spend a long time on our faces to look attractive to others. We feel self conscious if our faces are blemished with bruises or spots when we meet with others. W e want to look good, we want to look attractive. So should the church.
As the body of Christ, the church should look like Christ. For the unchurched, more often than not (at least in the UK), their first encounter of Jesus is through the Church. At this point, I would like to say that when we become Christians, of course we are blemished, covered in bruises and scars, worn and tired, as a consequence of having been away from God and dwelling in our sin. And until we meet Jesus in Heaven (or until he returns, whichever is sooner), whilst we are being made perfect, we remain imperfect. However, a church should not remain or settle to stay blemished. Every member of the body should be being transformed more and more into the image of Jesus, until the day of completion.
The more like Jesus the Church is, the more we display Him, His glory. The world will recognise God through the church. If your community does not see Jesus in your church, then Jesus is not in your church. And remember, a church is the sum of it’s members.