From the pen of Greg Holder we learn of Lynn Matheson, a neuro rehabilitation psychologist. In his book Your Faithful Brain,
“The young adult brain has about 100 billion neurons each, with between 1,000 and 30,000 connections to other neurons, plus about 900 billion support cells. If we stay conservative, as in the minimum number of connections for all 100 billion neurons, we get to 100 trillion connections. If we open it up to the possible patterns and combinations of patterns the number becomes uncountable beyond our wildest imagination. The numbers for how many operations your brain performs every second keep changing as scientists learn more. Dr. Matheson says 38,000 trillion operations per second. That's a lot. The simple point here is your brain can handle that many operations per second in every second of your life. Coordinating your life, keeping the lungs breathing, the heart pumping, the seemingly invisible and mysterious systems of your body. Working together in a magnificent symphony of life, touching, remembering, tasting, laughing, smelling, hearing, seeing, grieving, solving, imagining. All of this is orchestrated by a brain that has an uncountable different potential connections to make it happen.”
With that in mind, scripture proclaims to us that Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 4:11-16; Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:15-20). Christ is the head of the church locally and globally. Anywhere there are believers Christ is in their midst as their head.
Now let’s talk about our bodies. Researchers provide the following facts about the human body.
- Nerve impulses travel at 170 miles per hour.
- The heart pumps blood through 60,000 miles of blood vessels! The heart pumps 6 quarts of blood, circulating three times every minute. In one day, your blood travels a total of 12,000 miles.
- Each square inch of your skin includes four yards of nerve fibers, 600 pain sensors, 1300 nerve cells, 9000 nerve endings, 36 heat sensors, 75 pressure sensors, 100 sweat glands, 3 million cells, and 3 yards of blood vessels.
- Our eyes can distinguish up to one million color surfaces and take in more information than the largest existing telescope. People blink once every four seconds. That’s because eyelashes act as windshield wipers, keeping dust and grime from getting into the eye itself.
- Your lungs have a surface area the size of a tennis court. To oxygenate blood, our lungs are filled with thousands of microscopic capillaries. The large surface area makes it easier for this to take place and to get the oxygen where it needs to go.
- Your stomach gets a brand new lining every four days. Strong digestive acids quickly dissolve the mucus-like cells lining the walls of the stomach. So your body replaces them, routinely, before they are compromised.
- Your liver works hard at over 400 functions, including detoxification, protein synthesis, and the production of biochemicals necessary for digestion. However, you could have two-thirds of your liver removed from trauma or surgery, and it would grow back to its original size in four weeks.
In scripture we see the apostle Paul describe the church as the Body of Christ. To understand his meaning, we must first clarify the meaning of the word “church.” The biblical definition of “church” is not the building or a legally recognized entity or even a group of “churchgoers” that meet together regularly. A local church is a group of believers who have been led of God to come together as a spiritual family and live out their faith together. Ones who have turned from their sin and put their faith in Jesus Christ.
As followers of Jesus Christ, the Spirit of Christ now lives in us. Christ is the head and we are His body.
In scripture one of the best places to learn about the “Body of Christ” is found in Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth (1 Corinthians 12). As a group of believers they were the body of Christ, but the body in Corinth had grown sick.
In the church in Corinth there were divisions and infighting. It was shown by the selfish way that they observed the Lord’s Supper, hoarding the food or getting drunk at the table (1 Corinthians 11). Others had chosen allegiances to the different teachers in the church to the point that factions had been created and loyalty to Christ was becoming secondary (1 Corinthians 3). There was pride and jealousy in regard to spiritual gifts and people’s roles in the church. To make things even more complicated the church was made up of both Jews and Greeks, slaves and free.
In 1 Corinthians 12 the apostle Paul is seeking to bring about unity in a divided church by turning their attention back to the one thing that they had in common. They all belonged to Jesus Christ.
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
Yes, people had different spiritual gifts, they served in different ways, and they were involved in different activities but in the midst of all the differences they could not lose sight of the fact that they were partakers of the same Spirit, the Lord and the same God who made all of this possible. Differences did not have to result in division.
The Spirit then led Paul to use an analogy, the body, to express the balance of differences of role with unity in purpose.
12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.
We each were dead in our sins and now have been made spiritually alive through the Spirit living in us. Regardless of our ethnic background or socio-economic status, as followers of Christ, we all have in common the Spirit’s working in our lives. We are all members of the same body. In a healthy body every part plays its function for the good of the whole. Every part is different but necessary if the body is going to function as God intended. So, it is with the church, the Body of Christ.
14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
If we are to say, “Oh, I don’t have an important role in the church, so I don’t really belong,” that does not make it true. The fact of the matter is that God grows the church and God gives spiritual gifts to every believer for the sake of the good of the church. Because of this we each should be encouraged that God, through His grace, has drawn us to Himself and added us to the church. He, alone, has brought us into the body of Christ and given us a role to play. To say anything different is to not believe the Word of God. “God has arranged the members in the body and each one of them, as He chose.” Be encouraged. We can stand in confidence on these words, regardless of our role amongst the believers.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
(Hebrews 13:3 – 3 xRemember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.)
In the earlier verses Paul was addressing those who were claiming not to be part of the body because in their eyes their role was not significant enough. In these verses Paul is now talking to those who felt that they were important but others, with lesser roles, were not. Paul argued that just like in our physical bodies, those parts with less honorable roles are bestowed with more honor. God has created the Body of Christ in a way that gives great honor.
James 4:10 reads, “Humble yourself before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” Be encouraged, even in the most mundane of roles, trusting that the significance is not so much in what the task is, but who it is for. Humble yourself trusting that God will bring honor from even the unseen deeds.
In the human body, when one part is hurt or unhealthy it affects the rest of the body in one way or another. It could be like a sickness that spreads, or a muscle that hurts because it is making up for the weakness of another, or it could be one that is working in the wrong way, straining and burning out, or a part of the body that is playing a role that it was never intended to play.
Would it not be great to find a church that lived out the truth taught if verse 26? 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
I heard recently of a time several years past when a couple from Wilcrest had to move out of their house on a particular weekend. The movers arrived and were surprised it was a house and not an apartment. It was raining, so the movers got in their truck and drove away. The couple now had no solution.
They arrived at church the next day a little downtrodden and a friend asked what the problem was. They confided in him, and the friend proceeded to tell others. That afternoon, after church, numerous pickup trucks, deacons and their wives went to the house of the couple, loaded and moved all the furniture, and even cleaned the house, and all was completed in four hours. That was a picture of “if one member suffers, all suffer together.”
More recently, in recent weeks, I have heard of one woman who had a leak in her house and another family who had urgent plumbing problems in their bathroom. Other members of the church went over to the house and fixed the problems.
You may not have a strong enough back to help people move and you may not know how to repair a plumbing problem but we are to live as the body. It may be you are an IT person, or a great cook or a really good parent who can give some guidance to those who are struggling. It could be you are a teacher, an organizer, a mechanic, an administrator, a good project manager, an encourager, or a good babysitter who could watch someone’s children when the family is in need. It could be you can help someone financially or be a shoulder to cry on. We all can pray for each other. Share life with one another. Listen and laugh with one another.
We are the body of Christ and for this to work we must have the compassion to care for each other and the humility to ask and receive help when we are in need.
Our culture today often teaches us to do the opposite. We are to live for ourselves, to be very individualistic. We have even brought this into the church, focusing on our own spiritual maturity while neglecting the spiritual health or needs of those around us. But this is not God’s view of the church. The church is the body of Christ, where we each are an essential part of the whole and are called to be our brother’s keeper. Scripture calls us to love one another. Through Christ we receive the heart to do this for the health of the Body of Christ and the growth of His kingdom. This is even a sign of those who belong to Christ, that we love our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Members of the Body of Christ are joined to Christ in salvation (Ephesians 4:15-16). “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 4:11-16; Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:15-20). As we, the parts of the body of Christ, walk in step with the Spirit, that will put us in step with each other, confessing our sin, rejoicing in our forgiveness, and loving our neighbor as we ought. It is only as we abide in Christ that we will be given the heart necessary to be the members of the Body of Christ that submits to Christ as the head.
Christ is the head of His body, the church. He is the central, essential part of the church. If need be, we can do without bulletins, buildings, instruments, committees and still be the church, but without a close connection to Christ all is lost.
Christ is no longer physically here on earth. Because of this we are His Body. We are His hands that serve. We are His hearts that love. We are His mouth that speaks. We are His feet that go. If He wants a child taught He will call one of us to teach them. If He wants a homeless man fed He will call one of us to give. If He wants the gospel shared he will call one of us to speak it. That is our glorious privilege to be the hands, feet and heart of Christ in our homes, workplaces, our neighborhoods and our world.
We are the body of Christ. As we each play our part and appreciate the parts of others, the Spirit will bring us together in love and unity. Together we will accomplish much for His kingdom.
In the months ahead we will begin to offer ways to better understand the role we each are to play in the body of Christ. God has made us each uniquely fit for the role He is calling us to. We have spiritual gifts, passions, abilities, and life experiences through which God can work to bless others.
At times God will use our abilities to bless and at other times He will use our past pain to minister to others who are passing through something similar.
We are the body of Christ and He is our head. As we grow together as a church may we find joy and bear much fruit as we find our place and submit to Christ in all things.