Even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.
–1 Corinthians 12:12
The Bible uses a number of metaphors to describe the relationship between God and His people. Sometimes God is called the Shepherd, and we are His sheep. Sometimes He is called the Gardener, and we are the branches. Sometimes Christ is called the Bridegroom, and we are His bride. But the most common image used to describe the relationship between God and His people is the body: Christ is the head, and we are His body. Look at 1 Corinthians 12:12: “Even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” The human body has a variety of parts with different functions, but they are all coordinated by the head for a singular purpose. So it is with the church.
When you were saved, you were joined together with every other Christian who has ever lived. We call that the universal church. Now, the universal church does not have a prescribed meeting time or meeting place. We will not see one another until we are in heaven one day. In the meantime, God’s plan for doing His work is through individual bodies of believers that are strewn around the world. In the New Testament, the word “church,” “ekklesia,” is used 105 times. Only 15 of those times does it refer to the universal church. Ninety times the word refers to a local body of believers organized to do God’s will. The Bible says we have been joined together not only with the universal church but with a local body of believers.
Why is the church called the body of Christ? Because the church is the visible representation of Jesus Christ. Like Elvis, Jesus has left the building. He is at the right hand of God the Father. So this world cannot see Jesus; the only thing they can see is the body of Christ, the church.
And whatever the world thinks of the church, they transfer that opinion to Jesus Christ. When they see a local church functioning in unity, harmony, and love for one another, they are attracted to the gospel. But when they see a body of believers that is uncoordinated and warring with one another, they are disenchanted with Christ. How many people do you know who have been turned off from Christianity because of a bad experience they had in the church? You might say, “They ought to keep their eyes on Jesus, not on other believers.” They cannot see Jesus; all they can see is you. That why it is so important for the church to operate in love and harmony, functioning together as a body.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Unified but Not Uniform” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.