Summary: This is the third of six message on the nature and health of the church.
“HEALTHY BODIES Part 3”
One of the most expressive analogies to express the nature and function of the church of Jesus Christ is the human body. I felt directed to spend some time on the three key principles of body life and the corresponding commands that reinforce them. Several weeks ago we began exploring the richness of the body analogy.
Paul appealed to the body to teach three essential principles that necessary for a healthy body.
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7
The principle of diversity is clearly illustrated in these verses by the use of the word varieties three times and the use of the words “each one”.
The principle of unity is clearly illustrated by the use of the word “same”.
The principle of mutuality is clearly illustrated by the use of the words “common good”.
Many of the letters addressed to individual and specific churches focused on destructive relational issues plaguing the body. Just like various diseases disrupt the harmonious interrelationship between parts of the body and violate the diversity, unity, mutuality principle, so the disease of pride, selfishness, jealousy etc. hinder the proper function of the body of Christ in the world.
If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. James 3:14-16
What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? James 4:1
Disease in the members results in dysfunction in the body. Since the same Holy Spirit dwells in every member and Christ is the Head of the members, the natural function of the body is unity, diversity and mutuality.
We don’t have to strive for unity. Unity comes automatically when members function by the direction and empowerment of the Head. When the flesh and sin infect the members, unity is broken. All the letters in the New Testament promote healthy interaction between the members of the body. I have chosen to focus on those passages that include the phrase “one another”.
The Holy Spirit both describes and prescribes unity in the body of Christ. There is essential unity by reason of our connection to the same head; Jesus. There is practical unity by reason of control by the Holy Spirit.
Paul instructed the Ephesians to “be diligent to preserve the unity of the body of Christ
Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3
God issued specific commands related to the preservation of the unity of the body. The majority of the one another commands relate to preserving unity.
PROMOTE AND PRESERVE UNITY
“LOVE ONE ANOTHER” (Don’t be indifferent to one another)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
This is by far the most repeated command. It goes beyond loving people. The glorious nature of this aspect of the body is the mutual expression of the core of God’s nature. John declared, “God IS love.” Loving God and others is the heart of the whole Bible. The early Church enjoyed an extensive assortment of people groups.
Their fellowships consisted of rich & poor, slave & free, Jew & Greek, common & intellectual, high class & lower class, young & old. This was a genuine testing ground for the love of God that had been shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. It would have been easy to form groups of like background to whom they could easily relate. That was not God's intention for the demonstrating His unconditional love to the world that transcends ethic, economical, physical, intellectual, social barriers. There is a tendency today to build churches around commonality rather than diversity. No one said such diversity in a group would be easy. The early church had their share of struggles with unity. It wasn't long before the Holy Spirit found it necessary to inspire Paul and Peter to send some pointed exhortations to get along with one another.