For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.– The Holy Spirit, via the Apostle Paul, as recorded in 1 Corinthians 12:12
The Holy Spirit shares this simple and profound truth with us: the church is the body of Christ. As a human body has many members, the church has many members. The members of your body and my body are many, but they make up one body.
Is it possible for one part of a human body to survive alone, disconnected from the others? In some cases the answer is, “Yes, for a time.”
Is this the way a human body is intended to function? Is survival apart from the other members of the human body natural? The answer is, “No, it is not.”
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.– The Holy Spirit, via the Apostle Paul, as recorded in 1 Corinthians 12:13
A Christian becomes a member of the body of Christ when, “in one Spirit we [are] all baptized into one body.” Regardless of identity, background, heritage, culture, race, economic status, social status; “all [are] made to drink of one Spirit.”
This letter – what we now call 1 Corinthians – was written to a church rife with factions, disagreement, and discord. And sin.
In other words, the church at Corinth was filled with people.
The Holy Spirit inspires these words to set the stage for a revelation of how the church is to function; how the church is designed – by God – to function. In most modern translations, three paragraphs follow this introduction to the topic, describing the interaction between unity and diversity in the church, Christ’s body; we Christians.
Unity is one topic. In these opening thoughts, the Holy Spirit uses the word “one” five times:
- “the body is one” (v12)
- “are one body” (v12)
- “in one Spirit” (v13)
- “into one body” (v13)
- “drink of one Spirit” (v13)
Diversity is one topic:
- “has many members” (v12)
- “all the members” (v12)
- “though many” (v12)
- “we were all baptized” (v13)
- “Jews or Greeks” (v13)
- “slaves or free” (v13)
- “all were made to drink” (v13)
By this reckoning, diversity outweighs unity 7:5.
Does this match your experience? Do you see more diversity, more “different-ness” in the church than unity? As one who has attended church meetings for decades, this matches my experience.
If one reads the three paragraphs that follow, the difference between unity and uniformity emerges. We see unity does not mean uniformity. In fact, we see diversity in Christ’s body is by design, even though diversity often seeds controversy.
Nevertheless, the church is the body of Christ.