The writers of the New Testament, inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, used more than 50 metaphors to describe what it is like to be a Christian and to be the corporate capital “C” Church. The Church is the collection of all the people who ever trusted Jesus Christ for forgiveness, extending from the resurrection to the return of Christ.
One of the most famous and most important metaphors ever given to describe the Church is that of “The Body of Christ”. The implications and applications of this metaphor are huge and numerous.
Here are a few of the most important elements of the metaphor of the Church as the Body.
The Church as the Body in Romans 12:3-8:
We need to each think soberly and accurately about our own level of faith and giftedness as we fit into the Body of Christ.
When I am accurate and humble about my level of faith and giftedness, I am the most helpful and encouraging to the Body of Christ. When I am arrogant and have an inflated view of my gifts, I am the most discouraging to the Body.
There are many members of the Body of Christ—billions to be sure—and we do not all have the same gifting and function.
Even though we are one of billions, we are each valuable and we are each intentionally gifted by the Holy Spirit to contribute what we can each uniquely contribute to the Body.
The billions of us are one Body and we are members one of another.
We have a remarkable, inexplicable, spiritual bond together as the Body of Christ—greater than our biological family bond.
We have different gifts but they are all necessary and valuable.
These gifts must all be exercised with faithfulness. The gifts we each have are by the Holy Spirit’s wise intention. Our gifts matter whether we are on the platform or on the broom.
The Church as the Body in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27:
It was the Holy Spirit of God Who, at the time of our individual salvations, placed us into the corporate Body of Christ.
We don’t get in or stay by merit. We get in and stay in by the will and the power of God.
We are all, every last believer, indwelt by the Holy Spirit no matter what our backgrounds, track records, ethnicity, or giftedness.
The indwelling of the Spirit is a fact of salvation at the moment of salvation. Salvation is the one condition for His indwelling.
We are all part of the Body no matter what our giftedness or passions.
We rejoice in God’s intention to redeem and gift every member—no matter what that gifting.
We are all valuable and necessary to the Body.
If God put someone in the Body of Christ it is both sinful and foolish for us to say that they do not matter.
God intentionally placed each one of us in the Body by His will, wisdom, and intention.
This is God’s brilliant choice and whether we see the strength and giftedness or not.
Members of the Body that seem to “lack” are the ones whom God highly esteems.
This is the upside down and glorious economy of God in which the first is last and the last is first and the least is the greatest.
God’s design is that we have no division in the Body and that we each have intense care for the other members of the Body.
We would want no division in our physical body and we would not want to ignore an infection in our heart simply because the infection is not in our head. The Body of Christ must be as valuable to us as our physical bodies.
We are so integrally connected that when one member suffers we all suffer and when one member is honored we all rejoice.
We are in this together—both for the suffering and for the honor, for the losses and the victories, for the tragedies and the triumphs.
All together we are Christ’s Body. Individually we are members of it.
Each individual in the Body matters.
The Church as the Body in Ephesians 3:6, 5:23 and Colossians 1:18, 24:
The Body of Christ is made up of Jews and Gentiles.
Today this includes Pakistanis and Russians and Indonesians and Mexicans and Canadians and Aussies and Fulanis and Kiwis and Chinese and Nosu and all peoples from all places as they are drawn to the Father through the Son.
Christ is the Head of the Church.
He is our Director and Master and Leader. Without Him we are headless and that’s fatal.
Christ is the Savior of the Church.
He is the One Who rescued us and created us. He willed the Body of Christ. Without Him we are lost.
Christ is the beginning, the first born from the dead, and has first place in everything.
He is premier, exalted, first, unique, and our God!
The members of the Body of Christ suffer at various times and in various ways. As such, the Body of Christ “fills up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ” (Colossians 1:24).
Our sufferings as individual members of the Body and as a corporate Body do not make up for some failure or lack or insufficiency in Christ or His work. But our sufferings “complete” His sufferings in the sense that there is a prescribed amount of suffering for the entire Body of Christ before the return of Christ. When that suffering has been filled up, Jesus will return.
The Church is the Body of Christ. This is a metaphor with so much meaning and profound depth that we could not mine the depth!