We are the United States, but we are anything but united. In fact, we are the opposite of united; we seem to be totally at odds with one another. We can blame the Republicans, the Democrats, social media, COVID-19, that pesky kid down the street, or a host of other reasons, but sadly, we seem to have lost any idea of common ground or reason to work together.
That is NOT to be the church. We—the church—are also a collection of unique individuals, but we come together and find our common ground in Christ. To capture the image of this unity, the Bible uses the image of a body. We are called the body of Christ—and that is significant.
“Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another” (Rom. 12:4-5).
Consider with me what our own physical bodies teach us about living and serving together as the body of Christ. For example, our bodies have 30 trillion cells that work in harmony. They even pulse together in the same rhythm, which is all the more amazing when we see how diverse those cells are. Chemically, cells are almost alike, but visually and functionally they are very different. We are a bewildering zoo of cells—all kinds of cells.
Of course, not a single one of your cells resembles you, but when those 30 trillion cells are together, there’s you! In the church, no one of us fully resembles Christ, but when we come together—acting as one, serving together, and loving one another—the world sees Jesus. Here we are, an unlikely assortment of people, yet together we display Jesus to the world!
Don’t think that, because you are just one individual in the larger body of Christ, your role is insignificant. Each part of the body has great worth—and you too have great worth in the body of Christ. We each make a contribution, and without every part—including your part—the body of Christ does not function as it should.
“From him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building itself up in love by the proper working of each individual part” (Eph. 4:16).
Did you catch that? “…by the proper working of each individual part.” You matter to the body.
Within our physical bodies, there is a wondrous cooperation that happens between the individual parts. Each cell—each and every cell!—is flooded with communication about the whole body. For example, consider your white blood cells. White blood cells are only about one percent of your total blood, but they play the key role of attacking outside invaders: viruses, bacteria, and any foreign invaders. They are ever cruising through your body looking for the riffraff that don’t belong. But how does a roaming white blood cell know which cells to attack as invaders and which to welcome?
Among the 30 trillion cells in your body, there is an almost infallible sense of belonging. Your body can sense infinitesimal differences between a cell and an outsider. Even though your body is constantly making new cells, your body knows which cells belong.
The secret is your deoxyribonucleic acid—your DNA. DNA is a single molecule that contains your unique genetic code. DNA contains the instructions for 100,00 different genes. Scientists speculate that the information in your DNA is enough to fill one thousand books that are each 600 pages long. And a molecule of DNA is housed in every one of your 30 trillion cells. It is amazing how God has structured our bodies so that, even though each cell contains the same DNA with all the information about every kind of cell, cells specialize and form different parts of the body.
In the church, Christ is our spiritual DNA. Through His Holy Spirit, He comes to live inside each one of us, yet He calls us to different roles. Christ permeates every cell in His body, calling us to live and work together.
Unlike the divided climate in our American culture, we who comprise the church can be diverse and yet work together. Our common ground is Jesus Christ.
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