Friday, February 12, 2016

The Vision (2.12.16): Membership in the Body of Christ

Image:  A sketch by Leonardo Da Vinci, studying the proportions of the human body.

Note:  We began a three part series on Churchmanship last Sunday in our am service.  The first message was on Membership in the Body of Christ, based on 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.  Here are some notes from the exposition of the passage.

Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular (1 Corinthians 12:27).

Here are at least four points that might be drawn from our passage:

1.  The one body with many members has true unity through a common experience of the Lord Jesus Christ (vv. 12-13).

We share a common confession (v. 3) and a common experience of baptism (the reference to baptism here may be both to baptism in the Spirit through regeneration, repentance, and faith, and the ordinance of believer’s baptism by immersion in water).  We believe in a regenerate church membership.  There was diversity in the church at Corinth (Jews and Greeks) but unity in Christ (cf. Gal 3:27-28).

2.  Every member of the body has a distinct and necessary role (vv. 14-20).

Just as the body has a diversity of members, so does the church (vv. 14-17).

Notice the sovereignty of God over the body (v. 18).  In some sense, we can say we do not choose to join the body but He chooses to place us there.

If there was stifling uniformity the body would fail to be a body (vv. 19-20).

3.  We are not to despise the role that God has given to us whatever that may be (vv. 21-25).

Paul speaks here of some members of the body being “less honorable” and of others being “comely parts.”  Perhaps he was speaking of the fact that some (like the officers) service in public ways while others serve in private and largely unseen ways.  The point is that all are essential to the whole, and we should not despise whatever role we have been given.

4.  Each member of the body is to provide mutual care for the others (vv. 26-27).

We cannot be an anonymous gathering of people.  We cannot be indifferent to each other’s needs.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) was a writer who published nearly 40 volumes of verse in her life, most of which was dismissed by critics as airy and sentimental and is now forgotten, but her best known work, a three stanza poem titled “Solitude” continues to strike a chord with many readers.

The first stanza begins with the well known line:

            Laugh and the whole world will laugh with you
                        Weep and you weep alone….
The second:

            Rejoice, and men will seek you,
                        Grieve, and they turn and go….
And the third:

            Feast, and your halls are crowded,
                        Fast, and the world goes by….

I think the poem resonates, because it expresses an innate human desire for a community that not only rejoices with you but also weeps with you.  And Paul says that that kind of community can only truly be found in the people of God, in the body of Christ, because of the bond of faith that holds them together (v. 26).

Let us remember that we are the Body of Christ.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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