In his New Testament letters, the apostle Paul taught—in biological terms—that we are a living body. One body with many members, possessing all of the attributes of life. Although we are individuals, in our actions, relationships, and interactions, all believers are part of this body.
We learn about unseen spiritual things by comparing them to physical things we can see. Christ has a body that is in some ways similar to our physical make-up.
At first, it may seem odd to compare the human body to an unseen entity. Still, the Bible calls God’s children a body. By understanding what this means, we gain insights as to who we are from God’s point of view.
If you ask the average church member, “What is the church?” they will likely reply, “It’s the body of Christ.” If you follow up with: “What’s the body of Christ?” they will likely answer, “It’s the church.” Over time, these two terms have become interchangeable.
Perhaps at first, “body of Christ” was a radical idea, with world-changing implications. Yet, after appearing in sermons and conversations for 2,000 years, the phrase has become so familiar it has taken on the character of a cliché.
Since I grew up in church, this phrase eventually took on the flavor of religious jargon for
me, too. For a long time, I didn’t comprehend the depth of its implications.
However, after spending more time meditating on scripture and its parallels to the human body, I find it fascinating that the Bible calls us a body. It’s not the first term that comes to mind when I think about Christians as a group.
We may never know all the reasons why God used it, but looking at how the human body fits together helps us know more about what God expects of us as Christians.
We are very fortunate to live in an age filled with insights about the structures and processes found in human bodies.
As a child, I thought if someone had cancer, that automatically meant a terminal illness that left them without hope. Today, modern medicine has learned how to manipulate the structures and processes of our bodies so profoundly that many types of cancer and other diseases once considered a death sentence are now manageable—even curable.
Doctors spend years studying bodies. They read volumes about the human body, shock them back to life, operate on live ones, dissect dead ones, and see most of what can go wrong with them.
Even though the inner structures and processes may not appeal to the average person, there is nothing in creation more interesting.
The more physicians and academicians study the way the body’s different parts fit together, communicate with each other, and function for the overall benefit of the whole body, the more enthralling their discoveries. There is nothing as wonderfully intricate and awe-inspiring as the human body.
This explosion of medical knowledge can also be used to find a new depth of meaning in the biblical term, “body.” There is nothing as powerful and rich with potential as the body of Christ. May we see it quickly come back to life in our troubled times.