As Christians, we are called The Body of Christ. You’ve heard that, haven’t you? But the questions I’m asking today are where does that come from and what does that really mean?
Where does it come from? Well, primarily, it comes from the divinely inspired teaching of St. Paul in his letters in our New Testament. Specifically, in First Corinthians (that’s how most people say it, but not everybody (light humor … wink, wink) chapter 12, verse 27.
St. Paul writes to Christians, “Now you are the body of Christ, and individually members of it.”
What does that really mean? It means this. When fully-God Jesus Christ was on planet earth in fully-human bodily form (yes, He was both), He walked and talked and loved and served with his legs and arms and voice and heart. In His body was the fullness of God’s grace. And with His body, Jesus gave Himself in totality, even to His death on the cross to pay for and forgive the sins of the whole world. In His human body and with His human body, Jesus lived to the full glory of God The Father, and He lived in full and total love and service to all humanity on God’s behalf.
When Jesus had completely fulfilled the Will of The Father through His life, death, and resurrection, He ascended into heaven. And He took His earthly body with Him. Therefore, “that” body of Christ is no longer on this planet fulfilling God’s Will. Of course, Christ is here invisibly in His Holy Spirit, “The Spirit of Christ,” but we must admit that His body is currently somehow “at the right hand of God in heaven.”
So, what is God’s plan now? This is where St. Paul comes in to reveal God’s decision and plan. It is this. God’s plan now is that all believers in Jesus Christ, all of us who put our faith and trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus for our full salvation now and for eternity, all of us are now the “new” Body of Christ, doing in the world and for the world that which Jesus did when His body was present here. Now, we cannot “save” the world as Jesus did, and the good news is that we don’t need to. Jesus did all of that. But we “bring salvation” in Jesus Christ to the world by walking and talking and loving and serving with our legs and arms and voices and hearts.
Indeed, we are “The Body of Christ” here and now, and will be until Jesus returns at “The Last Day” to bring full and total redemption to all creation.
St. Paul describes to the Corinthians, and to us, how this “new” Body of Christ works in the world, all day, every day. Paul tells us that there is just one Body of Christ in the world, but this one body has many parts or many members.
The insight here is that this one body is made up of all the different Christians, all denominations, literally all believers in Christ. And each believer, or maybe even each denomination, or congregation, or group is a particular necessary “part” of this one body. Paul declares how each part of the human body is so important — the foot and hand and eye and ear; and in the same way how each “part” of the Body of Christ is so important. He even continues the argument that no one part can say to any other part that one is more important or more necessary than another. All “parts” are necessary to make the one whole body.
Here we see that we Christians truly have a unity in Christ. We are different, perhaps, in many ways – customs, style, methods, and traditions. But, in our faith in Christ Jesus, we are, by God’s design, truly unified as the one Body of Christ.
I believe that is absolutely wonderful! Thank You, God, for Your marvelous plan! Think of the strength and capacity this one Body has in this world. Christ is the head and we are all the feet and hands, the legs and arms, the vital organs and the smallest fingers and toes. But together we are the mightiest force in the universe.
To bring this to you on your most personal level, I offer to you, as a Christian, these truths based on God’s plan and St. Paul writings:
1. You are saved into The Body of Christ.
2. You are called into The Body of Christ.
3. You are a vital part of The Body of Christ.
4. Without you The Body of Christ is weakened.
5. You and your gifts and skills are vital to The Body of Christ.
6. The Ch rch is not fully The Ch rch… without u!
7. We are The Body of Christ together!
This gives me such great hope. I want it to give you hope also.
Kollmeyer is pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fayetteville. Sunday Services are contemporary at 9:15 and hymn-singing traditional at 11:15. www.princeofpeacefayette.org