the weblog of Alan Knox

Members of Christ’s body…

Posted by on May 24, 2007 in members, scripture | 9 comments

“The Body of Christ” is one of the metaphors that Paul uses for the church. Believers are called “members” of Christ’s body. This “member” language is often stretched to include the modern concept of “membership” in a church organization. What does Scripture actually say about believers being “members” of Christ’s body? Let’s start by examining the Scripture passages themselves:

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. (Romans 12:4-5 ESV)

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. 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. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 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. 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. 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? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 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.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 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, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:12-27 ESV)

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. (Ephesians 4:25 ESV)

For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. (Ephesians 5:29-30 ESV)

Notice that the word “member” (gk. “μέλος” – “melos“) is also used to indicates parts of a person’s physical body. However, the passages listed above seem to be the only use of “member” to represent a believer’s association with the body of Christ.

What are some things that we can learn about the church from the metaphor of being “members of the body of Christ”?

  • We become members of the body through an act of God not because of something that we do or something that we choose.
  • We do not choose to be members of the body nor do we choose those with whom we are members.
  • We do not choose how we function in the body nor can we tell others how to function in the body.
  • We cannot be members of Christ without being members of one another.
  • Every member of the body is important; every member of the body is significant; every member of the body is necessary.
  • Being a member of the body of Christ has nothing to do with joining a church organization or having “membership” in a church organization.

Can we live as members of Christ’s body and members of one another? We cannot live in this manner if we continually separate ourselves from other members. We cannot live in this manner if we feel that we decide who are members of Christ’s body with us.


9 Comments

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  1. 5-25-2007

    Alan-
    Good post about body “membership”. One area where we may have difficulty accepting members of the body is in the area of age and age-related perspectives. Although we are constantly (and rightly)being reminded to accept people of other races, genders, etc., we older Christians often look down on the young (remember the disciples & those kids who wanted to talk with Jesus?). Whether or not we appreciate their music, slang expressions, body-piercing, cellphone appendages, etc., Christian children and teens are members of the Body, too, and we can learn to appreciate them and what Christ is doing in and through them.
    I have been really blessed by the children in our church. Kimberly (age 10) volunteered to share her favorite Psalm during our Easter service…Several of the “pre-Christian” little kids serve each week by collecting the hymn books (yes, we still use those)…Katie (age 6) has produced and displayed a book illustrating highlights of God’s work from Creation through the Resurrection of Christ…Brooke and Tessa (teens)faithfully teach the preschool class each week…and I have been challenged and encouraged by Christine and Sarah (teens in my SS class) who have a desire to learn and explore God’s unfolding plan for us. These children may not be official members of an organization, but they give to support missionaries and write encouraging notes to them, and some of them help share the Gospel as we do face painting at community events.
    Jesus said, “Let ‘em come!”
    Kat

  2. 5-25-2007

    Alan-
    Good post about body “membership”. One area where we may have difficulty accepting members of the body is in the area of age and age-related perspectives. Although we are constantly (and rightly)being reminded to accept people of other races, genders, etc., we older Christians often look down on the young (remember the disciples & those kids who wanted to talk with Jesus?). Whether or not we appreciate their music, slang expressions, body-piercing, cellphone appendages, etc., Christian children and teens are members of the Body, too, and we can learn to appreciate them and what Christ is doing in and through them.
    I have been really blessed by the children in our church. Kimberly (age 10) volunteered to share her favorite Psalm during our Easter service…Several of the “pre-Christian” little kids serve each week by collecting the hymn books (yes, we still use those)…Katie (age 6) has produced and displayed a book illustrating highlights of God’s work from Creation through the Resurrection of Christ…Brooke and Tessa (teens)faithfully teach the preschool class each week…and I have been challenged and encouraged by Christine and Sarah (teens in my SS class) who have a desire to learn and explore God’s unfolding plan for us. These children may not be official members of an organization, but they give to support missionaries and write encouraging notes to them, and some of them help share the Gospel as we do face painting at community events.
    Jesus said, “Let ‘em come!”
    Kat

  3. 5-25-2007

    Alan-
    Good post about body “membership”. One area where we may have difficulty accepting members of the body is in the area of age and age-related perspectives. Although we are constantly (and rightly)being reminded to accept people of other races, genders, etc., we older Christians often look down on the young (remember the disciples & those kids who wanted to talk with Jesus?). Whether or not we appreciate their music, slang expressions, body-piercing, cellphone appendages, etc., Christian children and teens are members of the Body, too, and we can learn to appreciate them and what Christ is doing in and through them.
    I have been really blessed by the children in our church. Kimberly (age 10) volunteered to share her favorite Psalm during our Easter service…Several of the “pre-Christian” little kids serve each week by collecting the hymn books (yes, we still use those)…Katie (age 6) has produced and displayed a book illustrating highlights of God’s work from Creation through the Resurrection of Christ…Brooke and Tessa (teens)faithfully teach the preschool class each week…and I have been challenged and encouraged by Christine and Sarah (teens in my SS class) who have a desire to learn and explore God’s unfolding plan for us. These children may not be official members of an organization, but they give to support missionaries and write encouraging notes to them, and some of them help share the Gospel as we do face painting at community events.
    Jesus said, “Let ‘em come!”
    Kat

  4. 5-25-2007

    Alan-
    Good post about body “membership”. One area where we may have difficulty accepting members of the body is in the area of age and age-related perspectives. Although we are constantly (and rightly)being reminded to accept people of other races, genders, etc., we older Christians often look down on the young (remember the disciples & those kids who wanted to talk with Jesus?). Whether or not we appreciate their music, slang expressions, body-piercing, cellphone appendages, etc., Christian children and teens are members of the Body, too, and we can learn to appreciate them and what Christ is doing in and through them.
    I have been really blessed by the children in our church. Kimberly (age 10) volunteered to share her favorite Psalm during our Easter service…Several of the “pre-Christian” little kids serve each week by collecting the hymn books (yes, we still use those)…Katie (age 6) has produced and displayed a book illustrating highlights of God’s work from Creation through the Resurrection of Christ…Brooke and Tessa (teens)faithfully teach the preschool class each week…and I have been challenged and encouraged by Christine and Sarah (teens in my SS class) who have a desire to learn and explore God’s unfolding plan for us. These children may not be official members of an organization, but they give to support missionaries and write encouraging notes to them, and some of them help share the Gospel as we do face painting at community events.
    Jesus said, “Let ‘em come!”
    Kat

  5. 5-25-2007

    Alan-
    Good post about body “membership”. One area where we may have difficulty accepting members of the body is in the area of age and age-related perspectives. Although we are constantly (and rightly)being reminded to accept people of other races, genders, etc., we older Christians often look down on the young (remember the disciples & those kids who wanted to talk with Jesus?). Whether or not we appreciate their music, slang expressions, body-piercing, cellphone appendages, etc., Christian children and teens are members of the Body, too, and we can learn to appreciate them and what Christ is doing in and through them.
    I have been really blessed by the children in our church. Kimberly (age 10) volunteered to share her favorite Psalm during our Easter service…Several of the “pre-Christian” little kids serve each week by collecting the hymn books (yes, we still use those)…Katie (age 6) has produced and displayed a book illustrating highlights of God’s work from Creation through the Resurrection of Christ…Brooke and Tessa (teens)faithfully teach the preschool class each week…and I have been challenged and encouraged by Christine and Sarah (teens in my SS class) who have a desire to learn and explore God’s unfolding plan for us. These children may not be official members of an organization, but they give to support missionaries and write encouraging notes to them, and some of them help share the Gospel as we do face painting at community events.
    Jesus said, “Let ‘em come!”
    Kat

  6. 5-25-2007

    Alan-
    Good post about body “membership”. One area where we may have difficulty accepting members of the body is in the area of age and age-related perspectives. Although we are constantly (and rightly)being reminded to accept people of other races, genders, etc., we older Christians often look down on the young (remember the disciples & those kids who wanted to talk with Jesus?). Whether or not we appreciate their music, slang expressions, body-piercing, cellphone appendages, etc., Christian children and teens are members of the Body, too, and we can learn to appreciate them and what Christ is doing in and through them.
    I have been really blessed by the children in our church. Kimberly (age 10) volunteered to share her favorite Psalm during our Easter service…Several of the “pre-Christian” little kids serve each week by collecting the hymn books (yes, we still use those)…Katie (age 6) has produced and displayed a book illustrating highlights of God’s work from Creation through the Resurrection of Christ…Brooke and Tessa (teens)faithfully teach the preschool class each week…and I have been challenged and encouraged by Christine and Sarah (teens in my SS class) who have a desire to learn and explore God’s unfolding plan for us. These children may not be official members of an organization, but they give to support missionaries and write encouraging notes to them, and some of them help share the Gospel as we do face painting at community events.
    Jesus said, “Let ‘em come!”
    Kat

  7. 5-25-2007

    Alan-
    Good post about body “membership”. One area where we may have difficulty accepting members of the body is in the area of age and age-related perspectives. Although we are constantly (and rightly)being reminded to accept people of other races, genders, etc., we older Christians often look down on the young (remember the disciples & those kids who wanted to talk with Jesus?). Whether or not we appreciate their music, slang expressions, body-piercing, cellphone appendages, etc., Christian children and teens are members of the Body, too, and we can learn to appreciate them and what Christ is doing in and through them.
    I have been really blessed by the children in our church. Kimberly (age 10) volunteered to share her favorite Psalm during our Easter service…Several of the “pre-Christian” little kids serve each week by collecting the hymn books (yes, we still use those)…Katie (age 6) has produced and displayed a book illustrating highlights of God’s work from Creation through the Resurrection of Christ…Brooke and Tessa (teens)faithfully teach the preschool class each week…and I have been challenged and encouraged by Christine and Sarah (teens in my SS class) who have a desire to learn and explore God’s unfolding plan for us. These children may not be official members of an organization, but they give to support missionaries and write encouraging notes to them, and some of them help share the Gospel as we do face painting at community events.
    Jesus said, “Let ‘em come!”
    Kat

  8. 5-26-2007

    We MUST learn to function as ONE BODY in order for the world to see who God is!

    Jesus, Himself, prayed for the one-ness of the Body in John 17. Until we are perfected in unity, the world will see a dis-membered Body that functions apart from each other and sometimes against each other!

    Oh, that the Father would answer the Son’s prayer and use us to be the perfect illustration of True Love, that the world may see Him in all His Beauty!!!

    http://www.1723initiative.org/

  9. 5-26-2007

    Kat,

    I agree that when younger believers are often shuttled off to different locations when the church meets, then the church is not considering them to be as important as older members. I think we do this with other members as well.

    marie,

    I’m beginning to see that we are united in Christ. The question is not, “Can we find unity?” The question is, “Will we live in the unity we already have in Christ?”

    -Alan