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Why Is The Church Known As The Body Of Christ? Why Is The Church Known As The Body Of Christ?

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Why Is The Church Known As The Body Of Christ?

Written by: Mark Waite

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Ericka Andersen
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Reviewed by
Ericka Andersen

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The concept of the Body of Christ is a dominant metaphor for the church of God in the New Testament. What are the reasons behind this concept?

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Since the time of the Old Testament, metaphors frequently describe what the church is in the Bible. Popular comparisons of the Church includes: The church is Christ’s bride in which He is the bridegroom; the flock in which He is the Shepherd; a kingdom wherein He is the Lord; a building in which He is the foundation; a family of which He is the Father; a building wherein He is the foundation. Lastly, the Church is compared to the Body of Christ. This first metaphor of the church to the body of Christ was in Paul’s teachings. The first context of the body of Christ refers to the actual body of Jesus that was slain on the cross for the forgiveness of sins (1 Corinthians 10:16). The second concept of this term “body of Christ” signifies the followers of Jesus or His church.

Following the concept of the body of Christ referring to the Church, the believers continued to regard their fellowship with one another as to how the body presents itself, with harmony and unity. The Body of Christ is God’s footstool here on earth, filled with His grace and love. Sometimes, those who don’t know the character and the Word of God can only see or experience it through God’s people, Christians. The Body of Christ is God’s witness to the world. It represents Him as they follow Jesus’ teachings.

The Body of Christ is mentioned in the writings of Paul in the Book of Ephesians, Colossians, and 1 Corinthians. He constantly reminds these different churches of their roles as the body of Christ. We can learn the significant reasons why the church of God is called the Body of Christ through Paul’s writings. 

Members are United in Christ

The Church is the Body of Christ and He is the Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18; Ephesians 1:21-23; Ephesians 4:15). Christians or the people who believe in Jesus and have received salvation are together, the body of Christ. The only way to being part of this body is through receiving Jesus. A public announcement one can do to show they have received Christ is through baptism.

Christ is the head of the body and is the source of life, direction, instruction, and every single movement of the body. Without the head, it will be impossible for the body to function. In the same manner, the Church can never function apart from God. Christians are nothing without Jesus. The body without its head is dead. Without Christ, the works of men are futile. Just as how Jesus compared Himself to a vine and His people as His branches when it is cut-off, it will wither and die (John 15:6). 

In Christ, the entire body joins, unites, and functions together (Ephesians 4:16). The love of Christ held together with each part like a joint connecting the body. Where Christ is the head, there is growth and bond of peace. The body follows the head alone. It never obeys the other part aside from the head. The Body of Christ also commits to following Jesus above all else (Ephesians 1:23). He is the head of all things. The Lord subjects everything under His feet – All principality, power, might, dominion, every name under heaven, and the church whom He is the Head (Ephesians 1:22). 

The Body of Christ Functions as One 

group of people praying

The body has many members but it functions as one. Cut off the hand and it can never do any work on its own. Cut off any part of the body, and it will not move a single inch nor flinch. The Church of God is just the same. It is a unit. The body of Christ is one (1 Corinthians 12:12). The Bible emphasizes in 1 Corinthians 12:13, in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. Three times in this verse alone, the Bible mentioned “One”. It is consist of many members but is of one body (1Corinthians 12:14).

The physical body has this amazing characteristic of perfect unity. The different systems and organs function smoothly according to their roles to keep the body in its normal shape and quality. It exists for each other’s benefit. The scripture demands the same unity in the body of Christ. One function for another and another for the other, and they are one. The perfect unity that binds everything together in the perfect shape is the love of Christ. This love humbles us towards others, understands others, and chooses to be kind and compassionate. It is willing to forgive and eager to help. Moreover, it seeks the best interest of the other members before one’s self. 

The Diversity of the Members of the Body

The Lord is a diverse creator and he created all things in diversity, but yet in harmony. The body has different parts and it serves its purpose according to the will of the head. The body of Christ is also a fellowship of members with different purposes to serve one another, to edify the church, to equip the church, and to be a blessing to every member of it. Not all are hands, not all are eyes. In the same way, not all are teachers or preachers nor prophets in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:29-30). The Lord gave everyone different talents, strengths and purposes to be used for the kingdom of God. Each service is beautiful on its own and significant in the body of Christ. No one is unimportant. Every single member of the Body matters to the Head who is Christ. 

God created men with individual purposes which only they can fulfill. It was specifically designed for them. Sometimes, we lose this purpose because of trying to be a certain part we are not designed to. Every part of the body of Christ is indispensable. Some may appear weaker and less significant but they aren’t (1 Corinthians 12:22-23). Christians thrust themselves to various ministries that look cool and avoid others that seem unpopular. The reality is, works in the body of Christ that we sometimes think is less honorable bestow greater honor. God has composed the body giving greater honor to the part that lacked it (1 Corinthians 12:24) The Lord has done this so there will be no division in the body (1 Corinthians 12:25). Instead, there will be concern and compassion for each other. 

The Body of Christ Is Mutually Dependent

two woman sitting on sofa

The entire body of Christ is dependent on God. In this world, every part is mutually dependent on one another. As the saying goes, no man is an island. Similarly, in the body of believers, no one follows God alone. Actually, it is foolish to follow God alone. The enemy is like a beast seeking someone to devour. Those sheep that journeys alone are most likely the target of the enemy. The Body of Christ needs each other for encouragement, instruction, and correction. Christians are interdependent. This is primarily the reason why God gave different gifts, talents, and temperaments, to complement each other’s weaknesses and strengths. There are varieties of gifts and services but it all functions interdependently. All of these are also empowered by Christ and the Spirit in which we are called in One baptism (1 Corinthians 12:11). 

The Body of Christ works together for the highest good of the entire Church and to give glory to God. The real proof in knowing if the body’s Head is Christ is through the love between its members (John 13:35). Through this love for our brothers and sisters in faith, other people will know that we are the disciples of Christ.  

Being a part of Christ’ Body

We need to be a part of God’s family so we can function in the body of Christ. Aside from the perks of being connected to the body of Christ, it also gives us means to grow in our faith and acts of services. Everybody has a function in the kingdom of God. You may feel like you don’t matter or that your talents can’t be used by God but no one in Christ’s Kingdom is insignificant, no one. The Lord has in store for you that only you can function in His body. However, you will not know it with a snap of a sign by instant revelations from someone. You will discover it by asking and seeking God. Moreover, it takes a practice of the gift or talent given to you so you’ll be able to use it for the glory of God. 

Being a member of the body of Christ will be at times challenging. But, there are three things a member of Christ’s body can enjoy as part of God’s family. First is the friendship with God’s believers (Proverbs 18:24). It is a new relationship with the people of God. This friendship is not just bound with emotional attachment but by the blood of Christ. Second is the fellowship with other Christians (Acts 2:42-46). Fellowship keeps the fire of God’s disciple on ablaze. On the other hand, being separate from the body of Christ will lead to spiritual coldness. Lastly is the command of discipleship. Being Christ’s disciple is an interesting journey. As we learn to know more about God each day, as His disciple, we also mature in heart for a desire to make disciples someday. The Lord shapes our heart into the kind of heart He has for others. 

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