Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body — whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free — and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.1 Corinthians 12:12-13
In this chapter, the apostle begins to use an analogy that will help us understand how the church is designed to function. He places before us a human body, and draws lessons from it all through the rest of the chapter, as to its parallel with the functioning of the Body of Christ. It is more than a mere figure of speech to say that the church is the Body of Christ. God really takes that seriously. It is so much so his body by which he works today that he has given us a visual aid, to live in, and walk around in, and examine, and think through what is the meaning of the church as the Body of Christ. That is where Paul begins.
Just as the body is one and yet has many members, he says,
so also it is with Christ. Notice it is not
so also it is with the church, because it is the church and Christ that constitutes the Body of Christ. If you stand in front of a mirror and look at your body you should be struck by the fact that it is divided into two major sections, the head and the torso. The head is the control center of the body, while the torso is the biggest part of it, and the part to which the members, the arms, the legs, etc., are attached. This is especially designed to help us understand how the church is to function, for the whole body, plus the head, constitutes the Body of Christ.
This is an amazing statement here that we are part of Christ. That is what Paul is saying. We constitute the means by which Christ functions within the world, and it is very important to hold that concept in your mind if you want to understand how the church works. It is a body with many members, and yet it is only one body. It is not many bodies, many denominations. They are all tied together by sharing the same life, and they are tied with the head so that they function as his means of expressing his life in this world.
Paul answers the question,
How did we get into that body? We were not born into it as infants; the Body of Christ does not consist of everybody in the world, only certain ones. His answer is clear,
For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. That is the
baptism with the Holy Spirit predicted by both John the Baptist and Jesus himself, fulfilled for the first time on the Day of Pentecost, and continually fulfilled ever since whenever anybody believes in Jesus. They are baptized then by the Spirit into the Body of Christ and made part of the living Christ as he has been working in the world through all these centuries since.
The church is not just a group of religious people gathered together to enjoy certain mutually desired functions. It is a group of people who share the same life, who belong to the same Lord, who are filled with the same Spirit, who are given gifts by that same Spirit, and who are intended to function together to change the world by the life of God. That is the work of the church.
Thank you, Father, that I am part of the Body of Christ. I have been baptized into one body and made to drink of one Spirit. I pray that on that basis I may fulfill my function in life to be an instrument of your working right where I live and work.
Have we given serious consideration to the Church as the Body of Christ on earth? How does this affect our mission and our Source of power and wisdom from Christ our Head?