Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The Body of Christ Analogy

Paul devotes more than one epistle to the idea of the church as the “body of Christ”. He teaches, “There is one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.”  Eph 4:5-6  Each person becomes a “member” of the body at baptism.  “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 by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jew or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free.” 1 Cor 12:12-13  

The “body of Christ” has a purpose.  It organizes or “equips the saints for the work of the ministry.”  Within the work of ministering, each member has a calling.  This calling could be notable like apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher many of whom travel around giving guidance. Eph 4:11  Or it could be seemingly insignificant like deacons and teachers who “should be appointed to watch over the church to be standing ministers unto the church.”  D&C 84:111 No assignment is too small to be noticed and more than once Paul questions whether the body can really function if every member does the same job.  1 Cor 12:16-17

When all the members contribute by doing their part in the Church, everyone is “edified together.” D&C 84:110  The saints receive instruction in the “knowledge of the Son of God” Eph 4:13, comfort (when “one member suffer[s] all the members suffer with it - 1 Cor 12:26), and protection Eph 4:15.

“And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him, him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also.”  D&C 84:106

The body of Christ provides both spiritual and physical support to it’s members.  Children, the most vulnerable of society, are provided for by their parents “until they are of age. And after that, they have claim upon the church, or in other words upon the Lord’s storehouse, if their parents have not wherewith to give them inheritance.  And the storehouse shall be kept by the consecrations of the church; and widows and orphans shall be provided for, as also the poor.”  D&C 83:4-6

The storehouse contains food that can be distributed to the poor in time of need much like a food pantry.  It is funded by the “consecrations of the church” or the tithes and offerings of the members.  When the members take care of each other in the church, God promises to “rebuke the devourer for [their] sakes.” Mal 3:8-11  This means that everyone will prosper.

But what if the members decide not to worship with or participate in the body of Christ?  Without worshiping as a group the beliefs of the members begin to drift apart.  Together, they teach and preach and a “unity of the faith” is achieved.  Without protecting each other, the members are “tossed to a fro by…every wind of doctrine.” Eph 4:13-14 Without shepherds, the widows and orphans go unnoticed.  Without evangelists, the gospel message isn’t taken to the sheep who are lost.  Without janitors, the church itself gets dirty.  Together everyone prospers.

Ask yourself, "what good is an eye outside of the body?"

Life is like a white-water rafting journey says Russell Ballard.  “Most of us experience periods in our lives where the tranquil waters of life are appreciated. At other times, we encounter white-water rapids that are metaphorically comparable to those found in the 14-mile stretch through Cataract Canyon—challenges that may include physical and mental health issues, the death of a loved one, dashed dreams and hopes, and—for some—even a crisis of faith when faced with life’s problems, questions, and doubts.  The Lord in His goodness has provided help, including a boat, essential supplies such as life jackets, and experienced river guides who give guidance and safety instructions to help us make our way down the river of life to our final destination.”

The boat is like the church and it has the essential elements in it for spiritual survival but you have to stay in it and wear your life jacket. The life jacket is symbolic in this analogy of the things you must do to stay safe like prayer, personal scripture study and repentance.

I like both Paul’s analogy of a “body” and Ballard’s analogy of a “boat.” I am convinced that staying together as saints and doing our part is very important. I've seen the strong help the weak. I've been the one with only a "widow's mite" to give. I believe we must follow Christ when he said, “whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant. Matt 20:25-28

images in the public domain

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