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The Bible and the Church Part 2
A Family and A Body United Under Christ
From the beginning, man was meant to live in community. He was created in the image of the Triune God, and so was made to be a social being. Sin destroyed, the relationship between God and man. Man's sin separated Him from God. But it also did something else. It alienated man from man. We see this in many ways, whether by the constant wars that mankind has had with one another over the centuries, or by the cruelty that people have perpetuated against one another. Also, the broken relationships and divorces that destroy families and friendships are another example of the curse of sin in this world.
Jesus Christ came to save fallen humanity and to bring them back into relationship with the sovereign God. Where there is a separation from God, Jesus has made us sons and daughters of God, through faith in His name. And with the new relationship with God, is now the potential to unite mankind again. Every person who accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior, is placed by the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ, the church (I Corinthians 12:13). Two of the major characteristics of the Church which are emphasized in Scripture are their unity and their love for one another, and for a lost humanity. This unity and love can come only through the indwelling Spirit that lives in each believer. The church at its best demonstrates to the world what it means to live under the sovereignty of Almighty God, and shows the love and unity that they possess by God's grace.
Of course, Christians aren't perfect yet, and won't be until Jesus returns in glory to give us new and glorified bodies, not affected by the old nature and the curse of sin. But Scripture teaches us in II Corinthians 5:17 that anyone in Christ is a new creature. We have been given a new nature capable of becoming more and more like Jesus Christ. So, the Church of Jesus Christ, has the ability to demonstrate to the world a unity that mankind hasn't experienced since the Garden of Eden.
I. Adopted Into a Family
Scripture makes it clear that though all mankind was created by God, they are not all part of His family. Sin has made us His enemies. Romans 1 talks about the Lord's wrath being revealed against a world that refused to glorify Him as God, but exchanged that glory for idols, and became ever more decadent in their thoughts and in their actions.
Ephesians 2:12 says that before Christ we were without hope and without God in the world. But now, because of what Jesus did on the cross, Those who place their faith in Him are not only reunited to the Lord of the universe, we are now the children of the living God (I John 3:1). We have been adopted into His family and are heirs and joint heirs with Jesus Christ (Romans 8:14-17). So the Church is seen as a family of believers, united by their common faith in Christ.
II. Placed in a Body United Under One Head: Jesus Christ
The metaphor of the Body of Christ illustrates the unity and the diversity we have as believers. We are to act in unison to do on this earth, what Jesus would do if He were still physically here. The church as His Body is to act in such a way that Jesus is seen and glorified in what she does. Our Lord was on this earth for around 33 years. When He left, it was His design that we act as His hands, His feet, His eyes etc. in order to continue to do His work on this planet. There are many parts to that Body, each having a different function and each contributing to the whole in some way. The diversity is seen clearly in the fact that we all have some Spiritual gift given specifically to help build up the Body. None of us is expendable. The Lord has placed us all in the Body for service. (I Corinthians 12).
However, it must be remembered that though there are many members, with differing gifts, there is only one Body, controlled by one Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is to Him we must all look for instructions to carry out His work on this planet (Ephesians 5:23).
If you are getting the picture that the Christian life is not just about God and me and simply my personal relationship with Him, then you're getting more of a biblical picture of what its all about. There are no lone wolves, left to simply fend for themselves. We are a new family, a new community, a Body of believers, who have one major thing in common. We are all under the sovereign headship of Jesus Christ. It is a wonderful thing to know that God has not placed us on this earth to wander about aimlessly on our own. We each have a purpose that God has given to us, and our gifts make the Body function properly.
As believers, let us continually seek to maintain the unity of the Body of Christ, the Church, and practice love toward our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. And when all is said and done, may the people of this world be able to look at us, despite all of our faults and shortcomings and say: "Jesus is surely alive, because I can see His work in His people, the Church." Lord, let it be so!