I learned a lot about how the body of Christ works by studying the human body. It’s not that the human body reflects the body of Christ, or the body of Christ is a reflection of the human body. They possess similarities because both reveal the nature of the God who made them.
Growing up in church, I assumed that the Bible called believers a body as a way of describing them as a group. In the same way a lake is a “body of water” containing countless drops of liquid, I thought “body of Christ” represented a good way to mentally group Christians together.
However, as I learned more about the science of living bodies, the more I came to understand that God intended us to be more than a random collection of individuals. God created us to be a living entity. The church should exhibit characteristics of life similar to other living organisms we see around us.
Two words central to this issue are “organism” and “organization.” They differ in several respects. People cannot create living things, or organisms. They can fashion organizations (which are not living) as a means to reach goals.
I’m not opposed to organizations; when used to undertake noble activities, they can accomplish much. Still, organizations aren’t alive. We should not see the body of Christ as a man-made organization; it is a living organism created by God.
God alone creates life. He breathed life into Adam and placed him in the garden of Eden to be a steward and walk in relationship with Him. He created all living plants and animals. Likewise, He created the body of Christ and gave life to it. Christians are to exist as a living organism, not as a non-living organization.
Consider an artist. Connoisseurs of art can determine what artist created a particular piece, even without a signature or label identifying the creator. They simply observe the painting’s style and physical attributes.
The same is true of music aficionados. They can often discern the composer of a musical piece by finding characteristics running throughout the composer’s work. These threads can be considered that composer’s “fingerprint.”
Likewise, the Creator designed the church to be a living body. Because the same God who created all other living things fashioned the body of Christ, we may look for a thread of similar characteristics in His work.
I like to think of these shared characteristics as God’s fingerprint on His creation. God reveals His nature to us as we study His fingerprint on all living things. The true nature and purpose of the church may be learned through comparison with other living things.
The Bible records simple stories, or parables, that Jesus told in order to teach spiritual lessons. The illustrations often involve physical objects we can see in everyday life. These parables are clear and effective because the Creator’s fingerprint is on all things He creates, whether seen or unseen.
We can better understand unseen spiritual things if we study the characteristics they have in common with familiar, physical objects that we can see. By examining the characteristics of life found in all living things, we can see how these same characteristics are woven into God’s plan for relationships in the body of Christ.
Scientifically speaking, things that have these attributes are alive; things that aren’t alive do not. God intends for the body of Christ to function as a living organism and exhibit the characteristics of life.