Christians are often talking about “the body of Christ” and how ‘the church’ is to be and act as His body. I can’t recall that I’ve ever heard anyone ‘define’ this in a helpful way, which makes sense since different circles of ‘the church’ have an unspoken connotation of this lingo within their communities.
So, I’m going to do my best to articulate what “the body of Christ” means. I think this is actually very profound.
Jesus came to earth as a man. He was fully God, but fully man. And, being fully man, He had a “man” body rather than a “God” body (in fact, He still has a “man” body of sorts–though now a resurrected body).
Jesus was also fully walking in the Holy Spirit (read the gospels carefully to see this), which is how He could not and did not sin (1 John 3:6, 9). And Jesus had all the spiritual gifts, and all power, and all authority, and all wisdom through the Spirit… Most Christians, I think, know this about Jesus, but haven’t put much thought into it. The point, essentially, is that He is the fullness of “man”–the only one found worthy (Rev 5).
Okay, so anyone who calls themself a Christian is (or at least has the invitation to be) a member of ‘the church’, which is also called ‘the body of Christ’.
What this means is that, as a collective unit, we will embody Jesus.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul uses the metaphor of how each Christian represents a part (or member) of “Christ’s body”‘–this is a more literal description than I’d realized.
See, Jesus had all the spiritual gifts for Himself. We each have one, or a few, or a bunch–whatever the Lord has blessed us with (and given us responsibility over). Together, we will have all of the gifts to the full extent that Jesus Himself had them! That’s what it means that we are His body!
Jesus had all power and all authority, and He passed that mantle down to us (commanding us to walk as He walked!). But only together will we have the strength and power worthy to be the “bride” of the King!
Jesus had the ability to stay in the Spirit, whereas we have “on” and “off” moments as we fight out the spiritual battle before us. He never sinned because He walked in the Spirit, while we would be lying if we said we had that same fullness in the Spirit (1 John 1:8). But as “the body of Christ” we will learn to walk in righteousness, and the members of the body left when our Lord comes will have made themselves holy and unblemished as the collective bride (Rev 19:7).
We can’t accomplish the fullness of Christ individually. But if we AREN’T individually pursuing and cultivating a love for the Lord, godly character, wisdom, and the stirring of our spirits to walk worthy of our personal callings through our spiritual gifts, then the body of Christ will arise as His bride without us! We’ll find we aren’t one of the members of His body.
Let’s spend the time to learn from Him on our own, so we can fulfill our unified calling as “the body”!