The Church is the Body of Christ
In 1 Corinthians 12, we are told that the Church is the body of Christ. When I think of a body, I think of my own, since I am most familiar with it. When the weather is somewhat cold, and it gets below zero, the air dies out, and my arthritis does not bother me. However, my skin also dries out, and my skin is not happy. If my own body cannot agree with itself about what the humidity should be, of course there is disagreement within the Church. There are different parts in a body: teeth, liver, spleen, tonsils. All the parts of the body need each other: they cannot go off and live on their own. Unfortunately, there are Christians who think that they can be Christian on their own. There is an old saying in the Church: one Christian is no Christian. This is because our faith life exists within a community. That community is the body of Christ.
Besides being composed of various parts, bodies also have diseases. The same is true in Church. The most common disease of churches is arthritis. In this case, people do not want to change the way things have been done. Some churches also have autoimmune diseases, where they attack other parts of the body as not being Christian. They can have allergies where they think that something is harmful to the Church when it is not. This could include things like dancing. Some churches have impaired immune systems, where they cannot recognize what is contrary to Christianity. One of the most common sins that is openly tolerated, or even promoted in churches is gossip. This comes under bearing false witness. When the Church has an impaired immune system, it cannot fight off infections of things that are alien to the gospel.
Many people, when they are presented with the realities of looking at the Church as the Body of Christ respond by saying that we need to work harder on achieving unity within the Church. The problem with this attitude is believing that we can achieve unity: we don’t. God gives us unity. The only unity we have is given by God. We can get in the way of unity. We can obstruct unity, but we cannot achieve unity. The fact that we often do not accept the unity that exists is a matter of our sin. We can see and accept the unity that exists, or we can fight it, and obstruct it, but we do not create it. It is created by God, and only by God.
(“From the Pulpit” is a weekly sermon provided by the clergy members of The Weirton Ministerial Association)