Summary: It’s critical to realize that we’re not just random people coming to church every Sunday and throughout the week. We’re a body. We’re Jesus’ body, and we’re on a mission,
Church is a funny thing. I don’t mean funny, ha-ha, funny. Although, often it is that, because we’re human and humans are hilarious. Church is kind of peculiar, kind of wonderful, kind of a mystery.
I know a lot of people have a lot of issues with church. I know that a lot of people don’t do a very good job of separating what the church is called to be, compared to how it has often failed to be what it is called to be.
As a result people like me who believe in it deeply have to spend a fair amount of time explaining that its faults, especially its dodgy history, are not what define it, anymore than our faults as humans can define us.
I’ve got to tell you, I love the church. My personal experience of church has been that it is a beautiful thing. Like some people, when I came to know Jesus, I really had no idea about the church.
That’s because my parents didn’t go to church and never talked about church. Neither did any of my friends growing up.
So as I was starting to explore Christian faith I had only a vague idea that it was people who went to church who were the ones demonstrating to me a whole different way of life, a whole different way to understand the reason for living.
They were showing me Jesus, and somehow they also liked this thing called church.
So at first it was just Jesus and me. And, to be honest, if the church hadn’t existed I would have, been ok with that. Jesus loved me and died for me. He wanted to know me and cared that I know Him. That, I thought, was good enough for me.
Pretty quickly though, I realized that the random assortment of Christians that I knew liked to talk about getting together for church. So, curious about it all, I started to go to church with them.
I found it incredible that all over the city, and eventually as I learned all over the world, There were these people who, in a great many ways, we’re family to me.
People who were complete strangers to me, if they knew Jesus as their Lord and Savior, were actually my brothers and sisters. What now?
So...today we’re going to take a look at the what the church is called to be. Right before this passage, Paul has been talking about spiritual gifts.
Perhaps knowing that people might be inclined to use their gifts outside the context of the church and without accountability to the body of Christ, Paul writes the following:
The Body of Christ
1 Corinthians 12:12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
So much of Christian theology is practical. That’s why I love it. It can be understood, in many cases, by being compared to things we can easily wrap our heads around.
The Apostle Paul’s theology of the church as expressed here takes something as big and diverse and mystical as the church and explains to us that it is just like that thing your brain is sitting in right now, your body.
To be fair, Paul sometimes refers to the body of Christ as Jesus’ own body, sacrificed for us at Calvary and remembered in the bread and cup of communion, or the Eucharist. But here he is talking about you. And me. Together in the Body of Christ, the church.
Our Theresa quoted another Theresa, Teresa of Avila, in our course on prayer this week. Teresa of Avila wrote this:
"Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours
Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world
Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good
Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world
Yours are the hands, Yours are the feet, Yours are the eyes, You are His body"
Bible commentator William Barclay pointed out that long ago, Plato had drawn a famous picture in which he had said that "the head was the Citadel or fortress; the neck, the isthmus, or the narrow connector between the head and the body; the heart, the fountain of the body; the pores, the lanes of the body; the veins, the canals of the body".
Paul, knowing that the Christians in Corinth were heavily influence by the thinking of Plato, spoke in terms they could relate to and that have for all time been quite helpful - he spoke of the Body of Christ.