What Does it Mean to be the Body of Christ?

Jo Alaine Yancey

Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Mt. 5:14-16; 2nd π Mt. 21:12-13 π Mt. 21:14 π Mt. 22:37 π Mt. 22:39 π Lk. 22:7-9 π Lk. 22:7-20 π Lk. 22:10 π Lk. 22:11-20 π Jn. 13:1 π Jn. 13:1-17 π Jn. 13:4-5 π Jn. 13:14 π Jn. 15:26-27 π Acts 2:1 π Acts 2:2 π Acts 2:4 π Acts 2:44 π Phlp. 1:9-11 π Phlp. 2:5-9

Matthew 5:14-16
“You are the light of the world.
A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket,
But on a lampstand,
And it gives light to all who are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men
That they may see your good works
And glorify your Father in heaven.” (NKJV; top)

I was recently asked two questions, “What does it mean to be the body of Christ?” And I was also asked, “What does it mean to assemble together?” My “adopted” dad has engrained these questions in my mind for the last two years.

For the last two years I realized I didn’t have a clue as to the true answer to these questions. I cannot understand what it basically means now. The unfortunate thing is the real body of Christ may not be manifest as we think. “What is the Church,” is the better question. Several circumstances have happened to clear my vision of just what is this thing called “Church.”

Circumstances by themselves may never help us to arrive at the answer to the above questions, but assembling circumstances over time can be put together like pieces of a puzzle. Until you put the puzzle together completely the picture is not complete.

Over time these pieces began to bring a clearer picture as to what does the body of Christ look like and what does it mean to assemble together. These are two separate questions but both are a part of the same picture.

These pieces to the puzzle must be fit appropriately to see the complete picture. One piece of the puzzle is our understanding that we must have a real personal relationship with God. It is not what we know about Him but what we have shared of ourselves with Father God. We can know about someone but we can’t say we know them until we have met them and built a relationship. This is one piece of the puzzle and is half of the picture.

The other piece or half of the puzzle is actually knowing and being a part of the body of Christ. Unless we see clearly this piece of the puzzle we will never be able to see the complete picture.

You may ask, “Why is it so hard to understand and see the whole picture if there are only two parts to the puzzle?” Wouldn’t that be simple to do? No it is not. The outward Church has been trying for 2000 years to put this puzzle together. It isn’t fitted together to this day.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and all of your mind.” Matthew 22:37 (top) This is our first commandment and the first piece of the puzzle. What does this really mean? It means being complete in God through Jesus Christ. It is your complete wholeness, devotion and reverence to God in every area of your life. It gathers all our thoughts, every act of your life, every conversation, both to God and to others. It means with every fiber of your being entwined together with Christ. Note: Dancing is a word in the Bible that means being wrapped together or entwined. So we are to be dancing with the Lord.

We must long and yearn to spend time with Him above anything else in our life. It is not about ignoring our responsibilities or that we ignore or put aside other relationships. It is that God should always be our number one priority. If we have our first priority in order it will show forth the preeminence of Christ in your life. That means we dwell on Christ, meditate on His words and are daily communicating with our heavenly Father. Let us bring and lay every thought, concerns, prayers, our tears, our happiness and even our grief at His feet. Without giving to Father God how can we possibly hear God’s side of the conversation.

The second question is, “What does it mean to assemble together?” The second commandment is this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:39 (top) Without hearing from God how do we expect to have knowledge to touch the lives of friends and our neighbors? Our ears and our hearts must be in tune with God’s thoughts, voice and heart. Otherwise we might overlook the things that God really desires us to be. Remember, we are His light to the world. (The problem is always God wants us to be, but, we want to be doing.) Our light should be on a hill, and truly not our light but His. We should always be light to His glory. Being Christ’s light to the world should be our second priority.

The apostle Paul wrote in

Philippians 1:9-11 “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere without offense until the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise to God.” (top)

When we abound more and more our love abounds to those that are our neighbors.

How can we all be without offense and filled with fruits of righteousness for Jesus Christ’s glory and praise? The following scriptures have touched me deeply.

Philippians 2:5-9 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond servant, and coming in the likeness of a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (top)

Humility is always the answer to unity. How many of us really want to, and do, lay down our lives for one another? What does it mean to lay down one’s life for another?

In this country and many others, society is caught up in ourselves and our own little worlds. We have our own little “must haves” that we forget everywhere around us are dead men walking. Let me explain an experience I had on the subject. About two years ago I was sitting in a Church service and we had just finished “worshipping God.” I use that term loosely because one must ask themselves what real worship unto the Lord means. Better yet, ask the Lord Himself. As the last instrument was being played and the last voice was heard, I got an incredible vision.

Lying on the floor all around me I saw nothing but dry and brittle bones of men and women. I heard these words, “Dead men walking.” I was so shaken by what I saw and heard that I left quickly at the end of the service. As I was pulling out of the parking lot, I began seeing dead men, nothing but skeletons marching down the highway on both sides of the road. I was literally shaking and crying because God had shown me the real condition of this thing we call the Church.

Perhaps the best scripture I found on what the “Church” is not and what it should be is found in Matthew 21:12-13. The word “Church” is not used in these scriptures but “house” is. House can also mean a home where family members reside together. There, house is where they come together. The house is where they come to fellowship and get to know one another, uplift, encourage one another. The early Church fellowshipped at a house or home without judgment or condemnation. They had a sincere desire to put the interests of others before themselves.

Matthew 21:12-13 “Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, ‘It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves’.” (top)

Verse 14 gives reference as to what God’s house, His head should look like. “Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the Temple and He healed them.” (top) How many blind, physically and spiritually, sit in the pews. How many lame yearn to walk? These are those Christ has asked us to touched. They are those who may be sitting next to us with a blurred vision, physically or spiritually. They may be at wit’s end not knowing what step to take next. We have the physical and spiritual decaying right before our eyes. Yet, we are concerned about our position and condition of our lives.

The Lord had twelve disciples. They were not perfect men. They lived just as we do. These said they loved the Lord and the Lord loved them. Yet later on the disciples found they didn’t love the Lord as He loved them.

The next scripture will bring us proof of what He desires for us to be. This portion of scripture is concerning Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. It took place at the Passover meal He had with the disciples. The scriptures John 13:1-17 tells of the eating of the Passover meal. Verse 1 last part says, “having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” After the supper verse 4-5 “Jesus rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. Then He poured water into a basin and began to wash His disciples feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” Note; He took the towel off kneeling naked before them wiping off their feet. Let us carefully look at this again. He laid down His garments. The amplified Bible reads, “and taking a [servant’s] towel He fastened it around His waist.” (top)

Jesus considered Himself first as a servant to God, and to be a servant to others. “He fastened it around His waist.” This event signified the witness of a God that desired to serve mankind. It was more than just putting on a servant’s towel. Then He washed their feet. We should learn the great lesson in these verses. Be a servant to others.

John 13:14 “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also begin to wash one another’s feet.” (top)

The question to each of us is this. How many of us are willing to lay aside our earthly garments for one another, and fasten a servant’s towel girding our waist?

Let us refer back to the “Last Supper.” Luke 22:7-20 and focus on the major points. Verses 7-9 “The day of Unleavened Bread had come when the Passover sacrifice must be killed. Jesus sent Peter and John saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover for us, so that we may eat it’.” Jesus did not tell them where to go to prepare the Passover. So they asked, “where do you want us to prepare?” Verse 10 is a key to how God uses many to serve His purpose. Verse 10 “Behold, when you have entered the city a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water, follow him into the house which he enters.” The rest of the scriptures verse 11 through 20 (top) the man shows them the upper room. There they prepare the Passover.

Jesus used a man who was carrying a pitcher of water to take Peter and John to the upper room. I think it is worth noting that Jesus never mentioned the man’s name. We know nothing of the man’s name and only that he showed Peter and John the upper room. This man played a role, yet took no glory in it. He was a servant a Type of Christ. The man was never mentioned in the Bible again. So we see the example of Jesus working through a servant in a humble manner. How many of us would take on the role… to carry a pitcher of water… to take Peter and Paul to the upper room. He was not even invited to the upcoming affair. A servant - serves he does not eat at the table of the Master.

Let us look at Acts chapter 2. Let us highlight the events. Verse 1 The day of Pentecost had fully come. They were in one place and all being in one accord or one mind. We must remember unity is a large key in our walk with God. Verse 4 Because of their unity they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Verse 2 “Everyone heard them speak in his own language.” (top) They were able to speak the language of the stranger, of another ethnic group, another upbringing, all because they were in unity. They didn’t consider each other as strangers, they didn’t consider Themselves as being different than them. They were one - they were equals. I believe that what is portrayed in these passages of scripture is they preferred one another before themselves. They considered the one sitting next to them better than themselves. They were all servants to the other. They understood the language of the brother next to them.

I was looking at my hands and began thinking of how men’s hands were used in scripture. I was thinking about the potter molding the clay and being pliable in the hands of God. He molds us into the vessel whom He deems fit. Our hands too are powerful. We can lay hands on the sick and they will recover. They can represent both compassion and hatred. We can show compassion with a simple touch or we can show hatred with a closed hand to another’s body part. Both our hands and our feet can either overcome or divide. Acts 2:44 “Now all who believed were together and had all things in common… and divided them among them among all as had need.” (top)

The last scripture I would like to share is found in

John 15:26-27 . “When the helper comes, whom I send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you will also bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” (top)

So we have three witnesses or circumstances that would answer the question of what it means to be the Church. We are to be a part of the body, a part of the whole, and a part of being.

Matthew 5:14-16
“You are a light of the world
A city that is on a hill cannot be hidden.
Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket,
But on a lampstand,
and it gives light to all who are in the house.
Let your light so shine before men
that they may see your good works
and glorify your Father in heaven.” (top)

I’d love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!

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