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Wednesday: The Body of Christ — 26 Comments

  1. The image of the church as the body of Christ is perhaps the most quoted one in this study. We like to think of the different parts of the body having different functions, yet working together with Christ at the head.

    I am going to stick my neck out on this one. It is no secret that the church is made up of people with lots of different ideas. We have liberals, conservatives, middle-of-the-road, ethnics, generalists, modernists, fundamentalists, just to name a few. Often a lot of effort is made to ensure that "the others" should be like "us". We emphasize the differences using language like apostasy, Babylon, etc to describe "the others". The language we use is divisive and nearly always has the agenda that we are right and the others should be like us.

    We lose the big picture of Christianity so often with our own myopic view of ourselves and others. We need to focus on Jesus and follow his example.

    Two quotes come to mind:

    The Lord builds up Jerusalem;
    He gathers together the outcasts of Israel.
    He heals the brokenhearted
    And binds up their [a]wounds.
    He counts the number of the stars;
    He calls them all by name. PS 147: 2-4

    “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
    Because the Lord has anointed Me
    To preach good tidings to the poor;
    He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
    To proclaim liberty to the captives,
    And the opening of the prison to those who are bound; Isa 61:1

    We are on a journey together, learning and growing. We are not the standard that "the others" have to agree to. We need to work together with Christ at the head.

    Amen!(46)
    • I fully affirm what you are saying, Maurice.

      In further support of the point you are hilighting, I would repeat a very important point made in today's lesson that could be easily missed:

      "Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 12 conveys the profound reality that authentic Christian unity is not just in diversity, and certainly not despite diversity, but rather THROUGH diversity."

      This is profound - that true, deep unity actually requires and depends on diversity!

      How can this be? Imagine a body that consists of only one or two components. That would indeed be bizarre and not very useful. But the body is useful because it has so many diverse components all working together for a common purpose - all the while being on "a journey together, learning and growing" (as Maurice wrote).

      Amen!(14)
      • Phil and Maurice, diversity of function will never oppose one another in belief/action. Any diversity that brings argument and separation among the body is not the diversity illustrated by the body. When the head decides it will turn left, guess what, the whole body goes left. When the mouth enjoys a meal, the whole body is affected and either benefited or harmed by the choice the mind exercises in what it will feed it's mouth, thus affecting every other organ, limb and each cell. The wrong substance eaten can disrupt the harmony of the body and inhibit the proper functioning of it's vital parts.

        When speaking of diversity, we must be careful to not give license to anything that would divide the oneness that must exist in order to be effective. No body can go in two directions at the same time without something being severed from the body. Consider that fact.

        Amen!(10)
        • “When speaking of diversity, we must be careful to not give license to anything that would divide the oneness that must exist in order to be effective.”

          Robert, do you believe that Maurice or myself were suggesting otherwise?

          Phil

          Amen!(1)
          • We may have problems trying to apply metaphors and images to the body, "the Church". Real life applications, are where and how we live. Because we are each one different, one from another, we have differences of opinions. Does that automatically create disunity, or does it allow unity by yielding to love and forbearance? Does that idea set well with most of us? For me, not always.

            Amen!(0)
          • Spot on Paul.

            Differences and diversity does not automatically mean disunity. When all parties who have differences and diversity are operating on a foundation of self-renouncing love and forebearance, unity will be present even though there are differences and diversity.

            On the other hand, when one or more parties are not operating on a foundation other than self-renouncing love and forebearance, then unity will not be possible.

            Amen!(0)
      • The lesson author contradicted himself on that very point in the next paragraph!
        “Our ethnic, racial, cultural, educational, and age differences must not be permitted to divide us in Christ. If anything, this diversity should be molded by the Holy Spirit as a force for unity, revealing the truth that despite these differences, we are all one in Christ.“
        So is it THROUGH our differences or DESPITE our differences?

        The best answer to the world (and church) obsession with “unity in diversity” is:
        There’s unity in purpose and there’s purpose in diversity but there’s no unity in diversity.
        Differences are a reality which bring variety to the group but our unity is in what we share in common, not in our differences. In fact Paul said they do not exist in Christ (Gal 3:28). In other words, they aren’t a consideration. We ignore them or put them aside

        Amen!(5)
    • Hi Maurice, I´m not really sure about who you are referring to as "the others". I assumed that you are talking about people from other religions...? If that´s the case, ok, I agree that we cannot feel in any form that we are greater and that everybody should be like us... on the contrary, "we should serve, instead of being served"...
      Also, if we look around, we may see some human natural feelings of segregation, which are commom in people who belong to a certain congregation... but we also agree this is not what Christ teaches. He teaches love, and love is what we really should be full of and united in. Love that binds, cures, attracts and smells!
      Have a great day.

      Amen!(5)
      • While I am happy with your application, my original focus was on our own church. We have disunity in our own ranks and we need to think about how we can handle it. My concern is that we tend to demonize anyone who believes/lives differently to us using language that divides rather than heals. I am not saying that we should accept every difference carte blanche, but we need to moderate our language so that our interaction is redemptive and restorative rather than divisive.

        Amen!(10)
        • We have disunity in our church because we have a diversity of ideas about ordination, music, theology, dress, etc., etc. Shouldn't all this diversity cause us to be more united??

          Those who travel to developing countries where the food is questionable often eat at McDonald's. Why? Uniformity! They know what they'll get!

          Amen!(0)
          • The cause of disunity is not the diversity of ideas but the undergirding notion that "We" are right, and "they" are wrong. That is an egocentric view that we should to change. We could adopt an attitude that we are learning together on this journey and that when we pray together and study together, then the Holy Spirit can work on us together.

            I am not sure that your point about McDonalds fits. Those of us who value food choose not to eat at McDonalds.

            Amen!(1)
          • Uniformity is the opposite of what Paul is illustrating in 1 Cor 12. All body parts are structurally and functionally diverse. It is something much deeper than uniformity that fosters the unity that an effectively operating body needs to fulfill its intended purpose to be of benefit (salt, light, etc) to others.

            Amen!(1)
          • If you use the McDonald's as illustration their food is uniformly not fit for human consumption. I have been in many countries and lived 9+ yrs in Africa and have never needed McDonald's. It is a good illustration of uniformity according to the world instead of to God and His people. We can learn much of the different cultures and still be in unity of purpose and mission which is to show the love of God and His people.

            Amen!(3)
    • I agree. I use to be one of those Christian workers that emphasized on spreading God's word in order to bring as many souls into the Seventh-day Adventist Church as possible. And before I finish my next thought, I do believe that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is the only church that I have find to have the present truth as outlined in the Bible, and that teaches us that we must have a growing spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ. Now that I have said that, I can say that now I'm still a Christian worker, but now I just share God's word as the truth, and let the Holy Spirit do His job of convicting and converting men's hearts.

      If the Holy Spirit leads them into the church, Great! But sometimes, He has to work with them first, mend some of our wounds and broken-hearts, before joining them with the church family. I have seen the revolving door so many times in my life as a Christian worker, and I have come to realize why. We were trying to do the Holy Spirit's job. We can not mend a broken heart or a life that has been wounded; it would be like healing the wounds of a solider coming home from combat. We can pray for the person, and lead him/her to the ONE, Jesus, who can heal their broken heart. Even, people whose profession is that of counselor, psychology, sociology can tell you how hard this task truly is; that even after years and years of counseling, they are sometimes unsuccessful as well.

      Our Gospel mission is the same one that Jesus told the disciples, after his resurrection, in Matthew 28:19-20. After that, we are to let the Holy Spirit do His work. I don't worry anymore about what will become of these precious souls that I am sharing God's word with; whether they will join our church, or whether they think we have the truth. I just pray for them (follow-up with them, sometimes study further with them), then believe that they are "in His hands" now; as the song says, "He got the whole world in His hands". (P.S. Please pray for the world, and for the saints that we will be able to endure all that is going on around us. Let us be united in finishing God's mission.)

      Amen!(6)
    • One of the comments was that, " We need to focus on Jesus and follow his example". If we consider what is involved, some may ask, where and how might we accomplish this? Jesus picked 12 disciples to follow, and make examples of. Jesus had a great deal of patience in setting examples. I understand the admonition you gave, and agree. I would think we are given enlightenment and help, for guidance in many different directions.

      Amen!(2)
  2. Yes the body is a wonderful image because it shows there are different parts with different functions, it also shows they all need to work together, however the most important part of the image is that Jesus is the head who instructs the body parts what they must do.
    This is wonderful and the ideal, however what happens if say the toe develops gangrene like my brother's toe, he had to have that toe and the one next to it chopped off. We are praying that the rest of his foot is not infected and he is taking strong medicine to hopefully prevent further spread of the infection.

    Many cells make up one finger, 5 fingers make a hand etc, etc.
    Paul even tells us that the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you; nor again the hand to the feet, I have no need of you. All the different parts have no right to tell the other parts how to function, remembering that Jesus is the Head.

    I agree that the different parts should get together and under the guidance of the Head agree on a plan of operation and direction. However I don't believe the Bible tells us that the eyes should direct everything just because they can see ahead, I believe the eyes function is to inform.

    Just so I believe the leaders function in the church is to provide knowledge and suggestions to all the cell groups who would operate under the guidance of the Head taking into consideration the information provided by the leaders. So long as we all agree that our vision and mission is to have a loving relationship with the LORD and to spread the Good News that He loves all and is not willing that any should be lost.

    Amen!(11)
    • Shirley de Beer, I am sorry for your brother's toe.God is on the throne and may His healing Mighty Power rest upon him. All is well.

      Amen!(3)
      • Hi Pamela,

        Thank you, it teaches us to focus on the most important aspect, my brother might have lost 2 toes but he is still alive, Praise the LORD!

        Amen!(3)
  3. Every member of SDA should see him/herself as part of a body and not the whole, it will help us to see ourselves as not complete and we need the help of other persons "parts" to be complete.This will enable us to accommodate, cherish, love everyone that makes us complete. Just as the memory verse has said to us. We need to see everyone useful and fit before God. Each one has a roll to play in unity of the church and in everything we need to focus on God as the head. I should not see myself as only useful/superior in the house of God. Everyone is useful before God and we all should have this in mind and accept everyone as part of the body that makes us complete in Christ. Certificate, profession/qualifications has no roll to play in the presence of God. Only brotherly love speaks louder in unity and gathering of God's children.

    Amen!(7)
  4. The Bible Study Guide says, "We cannot, then, overemphasize the importance of the study of the Word of God, obedience to what we learn in the Word, and the common experiences of worship and prayer for unity in the body of Christ."

    We study, we obey, worship and pray together, then we, this just as important, we let the Holy Spirit work in us to bring about unity, by joy, love, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self control. Galatians 5:22. I almost missed faithfulness. Being a faithful friend to your fellow members goes a long way.

    What Maurice said is discriptive of all of these. (We are on a journey together, learning and growing. We are not the standard that "the others" have to agree to. We need to work together with Christ at the head.) We need to practice the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Make it a point to be so busy loving others, spreading joy, seaking peace, being long suffering, kind and gentle. Self control means refraining from always correcting, even if you are always right. If you feel you must fulfill Ezekial 3:21. Do it privately and keep it confidential, thus you are keeping peace and unity, which involves the Church and the individuals which make up the church. Great lessons, great responses, comments, and opinions.

    Amen!(8)
  5. The body of Christ will be composed of those who are in harmony with the whole, with Jesus as the Living Head. Those in opposition to His government and purposes cannot be considered as part of His body. So Paul is encouraging all to be in union with Christ, and thus, one another. Any form of ongoing opposition to the will of God in Christ will be seen as not of the body of Christ.

    In this body of Christ, every part is needed and the harmony among all parts is vital to the whole operation and success of it's great Mission. Diversity of function will never mar the unity of Spirit, purpose and mission. The various functions will agree and "speak the same thing".

    Amen!(3)
  6. God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit worked together and as one during creation to the end. This relayed harmony and divinity. As members of one body and Christ being the Head we need to follow the Godhead example. By so doing we'll be able to spread the three Angels' messages to the whole world...We will be able to break down the walls that are caused by differences of ethnicity,race,etc hence unity in one body.When the world see us they'll only see Christ in us and be attracted to join us in the proclamation of true gospel.

    Amen!(3)
  7. Many years ago, I made the error of thinking that religious organizations were synonymous of God’s church and that church leaders were representative of the Head of the church. This error nearly made a shipwreck of my faith.

    I have seen this erroneous line of thinking evident in discussions this quarter, and these words come to mind:
    Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!
    Stand in His strength alone;
    The arm of flesh will fail you;
    Ye dare not trust your own.

    It does not matter what I think, or what church leaders think, or what church councils think. What matters is what God thinks. In spite of our works, God’s will will be done. He has given me the choice to decide whether or not I will trust him, and think, speak and act in accord with his revealed will.

    Amen!(1)
  8. We can only develop unity in Christ once we crucify self and obey Jesus. Once we follow his moral principles of love we can find enrichment in our relationships and fulfillment of our personal desires.

    Amen!(0)

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