Building up believers and the New Testament church

The Body of Christ - A Glorious Reality

The Expression of God Through Every Member

"Speaking the truth in love, we may grow up in all things into Him who is the Head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies; according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love" (Ephesians 4:15,16). In the body, the central truth revealed is that every member contributes a part. No part is unimportant. To see this revelation brings responsibility upon each member, and that responsibility can only be fulfilled by an ability from God. A body that has only an eye or an ear is not a body. There is no place in the body for passive members. Every member is called to function according to the grace given by God. "But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift" (Ephesians 4:7).

What is the place of functioning for each member? The first place is to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3). If there is a schism or division, the grace of God cannot flow from one member to another. It requires spiritual vision for each member to see the other as a member of Christ. We know no man according to the flesh--that is, in a natural connection. Likes or dislikes have no part in our thinking. This takes obedience to Christ, the Head of every member. If we allow personal opinions of another member to enter our thinking, our expression toward that member will be hindered, and the unity of the Spirit will be affected. Only the mind and attitude of Christ are allowed to be expressed through each member. This means that each member must be hearing God and receiving direction from the Head. The hand may not touch the foot unless directed by the Head. Although this is easy to see in the natural body, it must be equally true in the spiritual body.

Proper attitudes are a central part of maintaining this unity of the Spirit. Consider the far-reaching effects of these attitudes: "with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love." This is the attitude of Christ, and this is the attitude to be expressed through each member. Remember, we are called to express Christ in reality, not just in theory. The body of Christ is real. "And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it, or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it" (I Corinthians 12:26). What a beautiful expression of Christ, when the body is knit together in love, and the compassion, care and concern of Christ are flowing unhindered through each member. The presence of God is manifest through each member, and the whole is greater than any part. Paul said that we would comprehend the love of God together (Ephesians 3:18).

Words proceed from the heart. If our hearts are knit together in love, then the words that proceed from our mouths will be such as minister grace to the hearers. "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification; that it may impart grace to the hearers" (Ephesians 4:29). "If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body" (James 3:2). How important our words are! They should be words that flow from heaven and impart grace. They should be words that speak correctly of God and His nature. They should be directed by the Holy Spirit to minister to needs and bring light. Words either build up or tear down. All members are responsible to come under the discipline of the Holy Spirit and keep themselves in the love of God, so that the words that come will edify and build up.

These attitudes and expressions of Christ will flow more fully if we truly see ourselves as "members of one another." If we only see ourselves, then the love of God has not yet touched our hearts. Sin separated man from God and made him self-centered. There is none of that spirit in God. The love of God filling our hearts turns our attention away from ourselves and includes others. That was God's heart when He gave Christ, and it is still His heart. It will be the heart of each member that knows the life of God filling his or her heart. Expressions of independence and selfishness vanish in the presence of God. Obedience to what God has shown us in these areas brings a further seeing and a fuller expression. Expression is something that must mature, and it matures as we keep ourselves in His love and obey the direction of the Spirit. In this place, God is revealed, God is glorified, and His will is done on earth in the body of Christ as truly as it was done in Jesus, two thousand years ago.