Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
I Corinthians 12:17
Before you go on reading, please read all of Paul’s chapter to Corinth: I Corinthians 12.
Whether we refer to the local congregation, a District of churches, the Synod at large, or to Christians of every denomination and sect scattered over our world, we are all members of one body… that is, the body of Christ. Our baptism made it so. This doesn’t disavow that divisions and disagreements exist or that we need to defend the truth of God’s Word with its saving Gospel, but, being “the Body of Christ” emphatically declares God’s pattern and design for His children and servants on this planet.
While we, with tongue in cheek, may agree to this, we seldom act as if we really believe it. It’s difficult enough to carry out His divine concept in local churches; it isn’t likely that, while we need constantly and obediently to reach for it, we will ever attain to Paul’s vision of unity and well-being as the Christian church in a broken, fallen world as it is.
If the church is to be what it’s gifted and designed to be –Christ-incarnate among the inhabitants on earth, we must begin to recognize and apply this concept within the group with which we are affiliated. We’re all members of the same body. For every mouth to proclaim the Good News of God’s redeeming love, there are two ears to listen to the joys and sorrows of others, two eyes to see the needs of people about them, two feet to take one into the hard places of human existence, and two hands to help bear another’s burdens.
We’re not all mouths to speak or feet to run. But all parts are to be honored and respected and encouraged to perform their various functions of which you and I are a part of the whole: the body of Christ and individually members of it. And “if one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” That’s how God designed the church on earth to be, built on Christ and Him alone & a visible gathering around the Means of Grace.
The Church’s One Foundation
The Church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ, her Lord; she is His new creation by water and the Word. From heaven He came and sought her to be His holy bride; with His own blood He bought her, and for her life He died.
Elect from every nation, yet one o’er all the earth, her charter of salvation one Lord, one faith, one birth. One holy name she blesses, partakes one holy food, and to one hope she presses with every grace endued.
A note about the song.
Samuel J. Stone was a priest in the Church of England and is remembered for this hymn written in 1866, then revised and recast in 1868, adding more verses.
The hymn is based on a number of Biblical texts: Ephesians 2:20; 4:4-6; I Corinthians 10:16-17; & Revelation 7:14b-17. We sing it to the tune: Aurelia, written and made popular by another Samuel: Samuel S. Wesley (1810-1876).