Romans 12:4-5. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Union with Christ is union with the Body of Christ, the church. Christian, there is no way around this. You can’t claim to be “spiritual but not religious.” You can’t “love Jesus but not the church.” The life of Christ in you will never reject the Body of Christ. Never.
Yesterday we looked at our individuality in Christ. But our individuality exists for the community of Christ. You are a member of Christ and you are a member of the other members of Christ – individually members one of another. You will not and cannot live up to the fullness of Christ in you alone. Even in eternity, you will experience the fullness of God through the family of God, not alone.
Chicken Run: The chickens work together to escape the evils of their present age.
Members of Christ
Each Christian is a body part (member) of Christ’s manifestation here on earth. We are each individually one of his organs. And Christ is the head. Therefore, there is unity here. The left arm never gets in a fight with the right arm. The right foot doesn’t kick the left leg. The body actually works together and compensates for itself. If one part is weaker the other parts adapt and work harder or in new ways to keep the body functioning. How? Because the head is controlling everything for the good of the whole body. And so it is with Christ. When he centers us on the mercies of God (12:1), we are also centered on the good of the whole.
Members of one another.
Christ has manifested his body on earth as the local church. Each Christian, united to Christ, is called to be a part of a local body. We are re-created to be members of one another. As we already said, the foundation for this reality is that we are members of Christ. Anyone who is a member of Christ is a member of other Christians. But what does this phrase, members of one another, mean?
First it means that we depend on each other, just like we depend on Christ. In a very real way we cannot say “all I need is Christ,” if that thinking separates us from our need for the Body of Christ. We must equate the two. “All I need is Jesus” must be equal in your mind to saying “All I need is the church.” I know that can sound extreme, but the reality is that you did not come to Christ without the church, you will not grow in Christ without the church, and you will not be complete in Christ without the church. Union with Christ does not allow the separation. There is no self-sanctification. All spiritual growth happens in relationship and is a growth in the ability to live relationally. Period.
Also, it means that you belong to your church body. Again, you cannot say “I will live for Jesus,” without saying “I will live for my church.” Your life is for Christ and his church. Your family exists for the church. Your singleness is for the church. Your sexuality is for the church. Your resources are for the church. Your gifts (12:6-8), your love (12:9f), your life (12:15f) is for the church.
Too often we think that the church exists as an organization for us. “The church is meant to help me live better. The church is supposed to help my family to get along, my career to go better, my friendships to bring happiness.” These may be true, but they are the wrong starting place. We must see that all other relationships and contexts exist to strengthen us for life within the church. The consumeristic American mindset, that says that the church exists for us, has drained the Body of Christ. Christians start and stop churches like diet plans. This is the work of the Enemy, not Christ.
“To live is Christ” gives us the sufficiency in Christ that we need to dedicate our lives to others. The “mercies of God” allow us to live within this deep community authentically and faithfully. When the mind is renewed by God’s mercy, superiority will melt away (Christ is the head, not you, and we are all equally dependent upon our head), and inferiority will melt away (you are a needed part of the local Body of Christ; without you the church does not function at full capacity). Now we are ready to deny independence and embrace interdependence, just as Christ has with the Trinity and with us his body.