The Relational Body of Christ


In our daily meditation yesterday, we talked about how Christ had brought His people into an organic union with Himself. Paul wrote that “we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13). So how does that work in reality? What difference does it make for true believers to know this truth of God? Is this deep relationship with other true Christians borne out in other passages of scripture? When the Lord Jesus confronted Saul on the Damascus road during his persecution of the church, He said to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Acts 9:4). The Lord didn't ask him why he was persecuting Christ's people, but instead, why was Saul persecuting Him? Those who belong to Christ are brought into such unity in the Body of Christ, that when one of us is hurting, Christ is hurting along with us. The Lord Jesus feels our pain when we hurt, but more than that, we should be so close in our relationships in the Body of Christ that each of us feels what our brother or sister is going through and hurts alongside him or her. Here’s how Paul the apostle described it:


But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 27Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it (1 Corinthians 12:24b-27).


Christ feels what we feel because we are one with Him. In another place, Paul the apostle again talked about this organic unity that we have with Christ, saying, “so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:5).


What do you think Paul means when he says that we belong to one another? To be a disciple of Christ is to be aware that we no longer live for ourselves but for Christ and we are to learn to live in relationship with others in the Body of Christ. When Jesus prayed for His disciples at the last supper, He said:


20I am not asking on behalf of them alone, but also on behalf of those who will believe in Me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I am in You. May they also be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me (John 17:20-21).


True biblical Christianity grows relationally with others in the Body of Christ by sharing our lives with one another. When Jesus said that He is the True Vine, He was saying that He is not just the rootstock, but that He is the whole vine. He is the sum of all the parts that the Father has planted. It is as if He is saying, "you have a part in me. You have a portion of the expression of My life. In fact, I have called you to be a fruit-bearing expression of My life." Faith in Christ is the root. Discipleship is the fruit. Discipleship is the outward manifestation of our union and communion with Christ. He has made us organically one with Himself so that we can be one in togetherness with Him, as He is one with the other members of the Trinity, the Father, and the Holy Spirit. The Triune God is in Himself a community of oneness. He wants us to know His community life. Keith Thomas


Taken from the series: the Gospel of John series. The study is: 30. Jesus, the True Vine