by Claude Holcomb
Notice a few things which Paul says about the duties of members:
“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office; So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” (Romans 12:4-5).
“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ . . . For the body is not one member, but many . . . But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body . . . Now are ye the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14,18-20,27).
‘Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members one of another” (Ephesians 4:25).
In the first passage, Paul uses the various parts of the human body to illustrate how individuals make up the spiritual body of Christ. The word ”office” is used in the sense of a function. Every member of a human body has a function to perform, but all members do not perform the same function. So it is in the body of Christ. Every member has his place in the church, with a work to perform; if one member fails to do his work, the church suffers to that extent It is a serious thought.
This teaching is emphasized again by the apostle in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. There are many members composing the human body, yet there is only one body, “So also is Christ.” The lesson is plain. There are many members composing the spiritual body, yet there is but one body (1 Corinthians 12:20). And just as each member of the physical body has its own function or use, so it is in the spiritual body.
Christians must ever strive to maintain the unity God designed for the body of Christ, “for we are members one of another” (Ephesians 4:25). Members of our physical bodies constitute a unit, and none of them rebels because it cannot perform the function of another. Nor does it withdraw from the body because because it is not humored and pampered; it does not resent other members performing functions it is unable to perform; it does not seek to hinder the work of other parts because it dislikes them; it does not sulk and pout because it feels it has been slighted. “So also is Christ.”
Members of the church have the obligation to work faithfully for the up-building of the Kingdom. Those who refuse to do so are under condemnation, Some of the parables of Jesus teach this lesson (the talents, the barren fig tree, etc.), Paul also emphasizes the thought in a number of passages. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Working members are usually happy, peaceable, joyful, fruitful Christians; never fretting, murmuring, complaining, criticizing, hindering-they have no time for such things. They are the ones who want to get things done for the Lord in the Lord’s way, and they do not become discouraged because they cannot do big things. They just do all the little things they can in the biggest way of which they are capable, and in so doing they become the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Lord, give us more members who are too busy to brawl, and too trusting to falter and fail!
Members of the body of Christ are to be holy in life. “Follow after peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). The church today is in dire need of men and women who will “follow after peace” in deed and in truth, rather than going about making divisions. Many pious platitudes are intoned with reference to peace that have no real meaning because the deeds of the propagators are inconsistent with their claims. When men accuse other brethren of being “poisoned” because they do not strictly conform to their own views, they have little place to cry consistently for peace. Genuine peacemakers do more practicing than prating in promoting peace. Striving toward peace is an element of “holiness without which no man shall see the Lord. It is strange that some brethren are so anxious to contend for the faith with reference to baptism, but are careless to the extreme concerning gospel teaching on holiness. If the church of the Lord is to prosper, its members must be holy in life. Those who are not striving to this end will not see the Lord.
Members of the church must love one another. How many are going to lose their souls because of failure here? Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you . . . By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:34-35). If you really want to know how our testimony appears to the world in this matter, go out and ask them! They will tell you the truth about it—the plain, harsh, indictive truth! But we are afraid even to ask ourselves! Some brethren seem to cherish the hope of heaven without practicing the principle of love toward the brethren. Do they not believe the Bible? I suppose we all think, however, that God will make an exception in our case, just to get us into heaven because of who we are. Some must feel that way, judging from attitudes that prevail. How bright is your hope of heaven in view of Bible teaching on love?
Members of Christ’s body must continue in the faith. If at last they are to be presented holy and unblameable and unreprovable in God’s sight, they must be faithful even to their last moment on the earth (Colossians 1:22-23). Christianity is not a seasonal or intermittent religion-it is constant, steady, and unceasing; woven into the texture of the mind so as to become an innate part of the being of one who is a member of the body of Christ, The man who is not godly every day is not really godly any day. There is no stopping place in the religion of Christ.
Let every Christian renew his determination to perform faithfully the function that belongs to him as a member of the body of Christ, unto the glory and praise of Him Who loved us, and gave Himself up for us.
CHRISTIANITY MAGAZINE MARCH, 1984