1 Corinthians 12:12-14; 27. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.13 For 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.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many.
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
The life of Christ inside of us is meant to be a communal experience. We aren’t saved into just a personal relationship with Christ. That is part of it to be sure. But we are saved into a corporate relationship with both Christ and the Church. We are born into a family. We are built into a building. We are sown into a field of crops. We are adopted into a household. We are saved into the church, a community.
The illustration Paul uses here is a body. This was a common illustration in Paul’s day. In fact the Roman Empire was spoken of as a body with the Emperor as the head. But for us in Christ it is more than just an illustration or metaphor. Because Christ indwells us, we literally are his body. His spirit, the Holy Spirit, animates us. We think his thoughts, feel his feelings, and speak his words. We are the physical manifestation of Christ on earth today.
Also, we are part of a new humanity, Jew and Greek, slave and free, united. The church isn’t just a nice place to go and sing some songs on Sunday mornings. It’s definitely not a social club, or an organization. It’s the place we go to practice how to be the new humanity. We learn to image God again. We worship. We serve. We love. All the things we were created to be, but failed to be, we now are once again- together.
This new humanity is accomplished through Christ. Notice that Paul calls us the body of Christ, not the body of Jesus. Jesus still has his body. It’s in Heaven seated next to the Father. Jesus is bound to his physical body and will be forever. But Jesus is also the Christ. By his death, resurrection, and ascension he has become a “life giving spirit” (1 Cor. 15:45). We are one spirit with him (1 Cor. 7:16). This is possible because the Holy Spirit is now the Spirit of Christ. We have been baptized into one body in one Spirit at the moment of our salvation. And we all were made to drink of one Spirit each and every day since. This baptism into the Spirit and drinking of the Spirit is what allows us to all be united to Christ spiritually as one.
Jesus is the new humanity. Humanity made perfect. And Christ makes us the new humanity through our union with him. If Jesus were just a physical person still (and he is) but not also the spiritual Christ, then our union would be something we have to generate from outside of us. But Christ in us means that our union as the Body is a reality that is sown deep inside each and every one of us. What a glorious thought!
“To live is Christ” is to be baptized into a community by the Holy Spirit. This is what makes a Christian a Christian. Every Christian is part of something that is much bigger than themselves, a new humanity. A humanity re-created to love and serve both God and the world. Christ himself is the source of this new humanity because Jesus is the new humanity. This will radically change how we treat all others especially Christians. To denigrate any other Christian is to denigrate Christ himself. To tear apart Christians is to tear apart the limbs of Christ himself. To sin against a Christian is to sin against Christ himself.
Do you see yourself as part of the new humanity? How does union with Christ affect your view of the church and other Christians? Do you see them as equally important members of Christ? What are the implications of the new humanity for how we should live in the world and with other Christians?