The Body of Christ – One Body, One Family, One Heart for Each Other
To start our conversation, I want to share a few thoughts about my family at home. As the father of three daughters, I have enjoyed watching three completely different young ladies growing up in front of their mother and me. Laura and I are amazed that there can be so many differences when they have all grown up in such similar circumstances. Their personalities, interests, and gifts take them and us in so many different directions. The same can be said about my marriage with Laura. Our differences are both a strength and a challenge at times. At the end of the day, however, our entire family comes together to eat around the same table. In our diversity, we understand and appreciate that we are still one family.
My family at home is a simple example of family, but it is not unlike the body of Christ. Each one of us being a son or daughter of one Heavenly Father. From 1 Corinthians 12:12-13, we read: “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” The entire chapter of I Corinthians 12 addresses this reality in much greater detail.
From this, we learn that our Father delights in diversity, and at the same time, sees us in unity. It is in Christ that we have become one. And, it is by the Spirit that this happens.
We must contrast the life in Christ with the world’s effort to produce a similar unity. If you have lived in the world for at least a decade or two, you realize true spiritual unity is alien to the world. It desperately desires unity and peace, but in its attempt to nurture tolerance and peace, it produces division and tension. The difference between the two is in the One we are longing to satisfy. In Christ, the object of our affection is our God and our brothers and sisters in Christ. In the world, the object of our affection is the self or a personal worldview we expect the world to conform to.
It is important to understand these two distinct realities because living a life with God and our Christian family as the objects of our affection will be realized in its fullness when we are in heaven with Christ and with each other. In Colossians 3:1-4 we read: “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”
We are to live our lives here like we will be living them in heaven. Paul calls us, in Colossians 3, to put on the new man (and woman) that we will be when we are with Christ above, in glory.
What will this reality be like? In one word, it will be love. In John 13:35, we understand that Christ’s disciples are known by their love for one another. We are told in I Corinthians 13 that when everything else has passed away, faith, hope, and love will remain (the greatest of these is love), and finally we see love in Colossians 3:12-17: “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.”
The language of the new covenant in Christ is a language of family, a language of relationship, and a language of love, which necessarily characterizes our family. As we are conformed to His image, we prefer and serve one another, giving glory to God in the presence of man, and building up the Body of Christ unto maturity. And, when He finally calls us home, we will take our new nature with us, having already become one with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
I am thankful for each of you, and I pray that the body of Christ would be a pure reflection of His love for us.