The Body of Christ
Ultimately we are not concerned only with the unity of the church. Christ is the unity of the world. Not only the middle wall of partition separating Jew and Gentile must be moved if Christ is to realize the unity of the Church, but all the walls of partition dividing peoples, classes, generations, from each other. The New Israel is the people made one with God in the atonement of Christ, and one with each other through the ministry of reconciliation. . . . Here is a unity without which the world falls apart into meaningless and antagonistic segments. It is a breath-taking vision, too daring for the faltering reason of [humans] to follow or comprehend. But it is the apostolic message of unity for which the Church is founded.
The One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church (Rock Island: Augustana Book Concern, 1954), 97–98.
The church-community . . . is conceived of as a single life to such an extent that none of its members could be imagined apart from it. But in the church-community every member is moved by the Holy Spirit; all have their divinely appointed place and their wills moved by the Spirit. Whoever lives in love is Christ in relation to the neighbor—but, of course, always only in this respect. “We are God through the love that makes us charitable toward our neighbor.”
Paul so often longs to be with the congregations from whom he is absent in the body. But notice what he doesn’t do: he doesn’t wait to offer them his words until he can be with them. He sends them letters. Letters meant to be read corporately, perhaps even to lead worship or be part of it. Such letters allow him to engage personally without being present personally. They are a poor substitute in some ways. In others they are superior.
For Virtual Theological Education, “Faith and Leadership.”
The Church is the Body of Christ, and the Spirit is the Spirit of Christ. He fills the Body, directs its movements, controls its members, inspires its wisdom, supplies it’s strength. He guides into truth, sanctifies its agents, and empowers for witnessing. The Spirit has never abdicated His authority nor relegated His power.
When a person becomes a Christian, he doesn’t just join a local church because it’s a good habit for growing in spiritual maturity. He joins a local church because it’s the expression of what Christ has made him—a member of the body of Christ.
My dying planet needs to see what the body of Christ looks like.
The Church is the Body of Christ, and as such it is both heavenly and earthly. The Church is the communion of saints, and it includes as members both angels and shepherds – cherubim and seraphim, and you, and me.
Stanley Hauerwas and Samuel Wells
God has given his people everything they need. What he wants is for them to worship him, be his friends, and eat with him. Through employing what he has given them to these ends, they will become the people he wants them to be. So to understand Christian ethics, it is necessary to explore the gifts God gives to his people. We shall explore how God gives his people one gift, Jesus, in three forms. . . . Each of these three meanings is conveyed by the term “the body of Christ.”
The Church is everywhere represented as one. It is one body, one family, one fold, one kingdom. It is one because pervaded by one Spirit. We are all baptized into one Spirit so as to become, says the apostle, on body.
We believe the world was made by a God who is a community of persons who have loved each other for all eternity. You were made for mutually self-giving, other directed love. Self-centeredness destroys the fabric of what God has made.
Michelle V. Lee
[Paying attention to those suffering most in a community] is a fundamental and paradoxical principle that goes to the heart of the gospel and the nature of eschatological existence.
The Church is not a human society of people united by their natural affinities, but the Body of Christ, in which all members, whoever different, must share the common life, complementing and helping one another precisely by their differences.
If you are worried about the people outside, the most unreasonable thing you can do is remain outside yourself. Christians are Christ’s body…every addition to that body enables Him to do more. If you want to help those outside you must add your own little cell to the body of Christ who along can help them. Cutting off a man’s fingers would be a odd way of getting him to do more work.
We must re-grasp the idea of church membership as being the membership of the body of Christ and as the biggest honour which can come man’s way in this world.
Yes, I see the Church as the body of Christ. But, oh! How we have blemished and scarred that body through social neglect and through fear of being nonconformists.
Faith is the door to the full inner life of the Church, a life which includes not only access to an authoritative teaching but above all to a deep personal experience which is at once unique and yet shared by the whole Body of Christ, in the Spirit of Christ.
You have to suffer as much from the church as for it. . . . The only thing that makes the church endurable is that somehow it is the body of Christ, and on this we are fed.
Thomas C. Oden
The deeper irony is that the evidence of sin that are always found in and around the body of Christ may become indirect intimations of its holiness. It could not be a holy church if it had clean hands, as if severed from its task of saving sinners and healing human hurt.”
Anyone wanting to proclaim the glory of Christ to the ends of the earth must consider not only how to declare the gospel verbally but also how to demonstrate the gospel visibly in a world where so many are urgently hungry. If I am going to address urgent spriitual need by sharing the gospel of Christ or building up the body of Christ around the world, then I cannot overlook dire physical need in the process.
We do not know the whole fact of Christ incarnate unless we know his church, and its life as part of his own life. . . . The Body is the fullness of Christ, and the history of the Church and the lives of the saints are acts in the biography of the Messiah.
Glory Descending: Michael Ramsey and His Writings, ed. Douglas Dales et al. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 102.
Our joys will be doubled and our sorrows will be reduced and we will walk our life in community with the body of Christ. When you are with someone else, you are not nearly as willing to give up. So find a friend, be honest and walk together.
Paul points out that some say, ‘I’m of Paul,’ while others say, ‘I’m of Apollos.’ He asked, ‘Isn’t that carnal?’ But what’s the difference between saying that or saying, ‘I’m a Baptist,’ ‘I’m a Presbyterian,’ ‘I’m a Methodist,’ ‘I’m a Catholic’? I have found that the more spiritual a person becomes, the less denominational he is. We should realize that we’re all part of the Body of Christ and that there aren’t any real divisions in the Body. We’re all one.
Therefore the churches, although they are so many and so great, comprise but the one primitive church, [founded] by the apostles, from which they all [spring]. In this way all are primitive, and all are apostolic, whilst they are all proved to be one, in [unbroken] unity, by their peaceful communion, and title of brotherhood, and bond of hospitality—privileges which no other rule directs than the one tradition of the selfsame mystery.
“The Prescription against Heretics,” trans. Peter Holmes, in The Ante-Nicene Fathers , ed. A. Roberts and J. Donaldson (reprint; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), 3:454 (20).
Mark Guy Pearse & Sarah Eliza Rowntree
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours.
Christ Has No Body
Deanna A. Thompson
The local congregation is the place for care of the most vulnerable in society…The local congregation is small enough to recognize the special needs of its members.
Deanna A. Thompson
To call the community in Corinth “the body of Christ” that proclaims Jesus as Lord, then, counters a culture that proclaims that Caesar is lord, where Caesar is seen as ruler and head of the body. Once again, it is clear that Paul’s application of the body metaphor to the church “deeply disrupts the smooth flow of the social hegemonic networks” of the time.
Only you can be you. God designed each of us so there would be no duplication in the world. No one has the exact same mix of factors that make you unique. That means no one else on earth will ever be able to play the role God planned for you. If you don’t make your unique contribution to the Body of Christ, it won’t be made.
Still Looking for inspiration?
Consider checking out our illustrations page on the Body of Christ.