Members In Particular
The Body of Christ
“Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular”–1 Corinthians 12:27
Our response to this statement from the Lord should be positive and enthusiastic. But it must be cultivated. It is not easy, because of our fallen human nature and because we have an adversary who is bent on destroying our confidence regarding our position in Christ.
A beautifully close relationship exists between us and our heavenly Father. A similar relationship should be felt between us as brethren.
Understanding Satan’s Subtlety
Why is our adversary interested in destroying our faith? Because he has already been judged. He knows that he is to be destroyed, and he hopes he can save himself by upsetting God’s plan and avoiding his sentence of death. He tried to destroy Jesus. He endeavored to destroy the Church through persecution and the delusions of papacy. Now he is making a final desperate effort to destroy the faith of the remaining saints. The adversary could have little success if he came to us openly. But he is too wily a foe to do that. He attacks the weaknesses of our flesh. God permits this because it develops and crystallizes our faith structure.
Satan’s suggestions might seem minor, but they affect ourselves, our ecclesia, even the whole body of Christ on this side of the veil.
He Could Work Through Us
He might influence us to think, “I’m too tired to go to meeting tonight. I’ve had a hard day.” Or say, “I have so many weaknesses, I’ll be satisfied with whatever the Lord gives me when my life here is finished.” That is subtle. It sounds humble. Or think, “That’s just my way. The Lord will forgive me.” Or, “I won’t comment in meeting because others can word answers better.” Or, “My judgment isn’t always accurate, so I won’t participate in voting in class elections.” These negative thoughts are small beginnings, but could develop into an attitude that would stunt our Christian growth and be detrimental to the entire ecclesia.
We must resist the devil by maintaining an aggressive approach to our consecration vows and our responsibility within the Body.
Let us think about our association with our ecclesia. I Corinthians 12 talks about the relationship that each of us has in the body of Christ now. Whether we are privileged to be on the other side or not will depend on what we are doing about our responsibilities here. Members in Particular
Our text says that we are members of the Body and then declares emphatically that we are members in particular. There is a special identity that each of us has, peculiarly ours, that develops in the course of our Christian life—an identity based on our relationship with our Father and our brethren. When the gem stones are taken out of the miry pit, each one requires a different preparation in order to be made beautiful by the lapidary. He treats each as though it was the most important jewel of all. He tries to develop each stone to its fullest beauty and reflection of light.
Our Unique Position
You are unique to our heavenly Father. He will have an unduplicated relationship with you throughout your Christian life. Guardian angels help to make you special.
Taylor puts it this way: “Each is a separate and necessary part.” Berkley says: “Members with assigned parts.” God sets every member in the body, as it pleaseth him (I Cor. 12:18). The apostle uses the symbol of the human body to describe the diversity in the body of Christ. “But the manifestation of the spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (I Cor. 12:7). God That does not omit any of us. Each member of the Body has a responsibility that must be fulfilled on behalf of the Body as a whole.
Our Part in the Body
Think of your ecclesia as the body of Christ. “Grow up into him in all things which is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth according to the effectual working of every part, maketh increase in the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Eph. 4:15,16;.1 Corinthians 12:12ff). “As the human body which has many parts is a unity and those parts, despite their multiplicity, constitute one single body, so it is with Christ.We have all the same spirit.
“If the foot should say, because I am not a hand, I don’t belong to the body, does that alter the fact that the foot is a part of the body? Or if the ear should say, because I am not an eye, I don’t belong to the body, does that mean that the ear really is not a part of the body? After all, if the body were all one eye…where would be the sense of hearing? Or if it were all one ear, where would be the sense of smell?…The eye cannot say to the hand, I don’t need you. Nor again can the head say to the feet, I don’t need you….The parts which do not look beautiful have a deeper beauty in the work they do, while the parts which look beautiful, may not necessarily be at all essential to life…If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it. And if one member is honored, all the members share a common joy.”
Our Personal Assignments
It is important that we earnestly strive to develop a loving relationship with each one in our ecclesia. We have been placed in the Body by our heavenly Father. We did not place ourselves. No one else placed us where we are. It is vital that we fulfill definite functions required of us according to our ability and circumstances. The elders of the ecclesia must realize the tremendous responsibility on their shoulders—to see that each member of the ecclesia is made to feel a necessary part of the whole Body. Each should be encouraged to attend meetings and take an active part in the studies, participating in the activities of the ecclesia, engaging whole-heartedly. The elders must promote the concept of diversification of responsibility within the ecclesia. Reach out into the ecclesia and try to involve everyone who has scriptural qualifications. The ecclesia will prosper spiritually by that which every joint supplieth. Where all the responsibilities are carried out by the same few, there will be fertile ground for the adversary—discontent, factions. Then the adversary will have gained his victory.
With a shrug, we may say, “Oh, they left us.” We defend our own position. We do not consider that those who leave us (to form an ecclesia more in keeping with their ideals) may have grounds for their feeling. Let us be very sure that we have not provided an environment that contributed to the disaster. Let us get everyone involved in ecclesia responsibilities so that they will develop and be able to take on more responsibility.
The Outline of Our Walk
Romans 12 Bears Upon Our Entire Christian Life:
In verse 1, consecration is represented. Presenting our bodies a living sacrifice marks the beginning of our walk.
In verse 2, the transformation of our minds, our lives, must be accomplished—away from the flesh to the doing of the heavenly Father’s will.
In verse 3, it is only on the basis of a sincere humility of heart this transformation could occur.
In verse 4, the apostle begins to develop a positive action program that, if carefully applied in our lives, will carry out the requirement of the second verse, the transformation. If we apply this program, it will break down the barriers of pride, selfishness, evil speaking, criticism of our brethren, negligence, disinterest in the well-being of our brethren, discouragement and fear.
Our Part is Necessary
No one can do this for us. We must become active participants in this work of faith. It is a matter of great concern. The Lord has placed you in your present circumstances because there is something that he wants you to do there.
If we are fervent in spirit serving the Lord, the windows of heaven will open and he will pour out a blessing so great that we cannot contain it all. We will begin to see opportunities that we never knew were there. Our lives will become exciting, and they will become very busy in this close relationship that will develop between ourselves, our heavenly Father, our Lord Jesus, and our fellow members of the Body.
Faithful in Little Things
Don’t look for the big thing. That may be motivated by pride and a desire to be recognized. Verse 16—Berkley: “Do not aspire to eminence, but willingly adjust yourselves to humble situations.” These humble situations are where the Lord wanted most of us to be. In these lowly places, the Lord is carefully preparing us—chiseling, washing away the dross—as precious gems that will reflect his glory and light throughout eternity.
“My substance was not hid from thee when I was made in secret and curiously wrought in the very lowest parts of the earth” (Psa. 139:15).
Needing One Another
We could not express a closer relationship than “members one of the other.” Another translation: “Each of us being part of the whole, and mutually dependent on the other parts.” Sometimes we seek the fellowship of those who are more active in our ecclesias, or we neglect the less mature ones (or the ones we think are less mature). Perhaps the more timid ones sit in the back row and we don’t often hear them. Perhaps there are some in our ecclesia who speak broken English. We have difficulty communicating with them; we avoid them.
We may have other inhibitions respecting brethren. They may have a weakness that is particularly distasteful to us. Remember that our relationship is not according to the flesh, but according to the spirit.
Let us consciously have full communication with all of our ecclesia. Let them know that we care about them. They will be greatly blessed by our fellowship and concern. Ere long, we will discover how much we need them. The love that flows between us will be of mutual benefit.
Serving One Another
One of our responsibilities is speaking effectively —the gift of prophecy. Let us use that to the benefit of others. Or ministry: Taylor says, “If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well”—not being choosy—not just serving our favorites.
“Or he that teacheth.” It is important that the elder be apt to teach. One of the best forms of teaching is to draw the discussion from the congregation. This encourages the brethren in private study to prepare for the meeting, and also stimulates everyone to think and concentrate on the study that is in progress. The Lord greatly blesses this arrangement for the spiritual prosperity of the ecclesia. (Verse 8—Phillips): “If our gift be the stimulating of the faith of others, let us set ourselves to it.” Some have a talent for encouraging others. Everyone needs encouragement.
It is a profound privilege to encourage those who are in a more active role in the labors of the Bible Student movement, and those in our ecclesias who are performing services faithfully on behalf of the body of Christ, and every member of our ecclesia.
It is a slow process—the polishing, the shaping. Why? It is slow because of the barriers of our fallen flesh. Our heavenly Father has ordained that it can only be accomplished through the full cooperation of willing, humble hearts.
What We Can Do
Our free moral agency is not to be circumvented in this work. Our heavenly Father will allow us the option of going as slowly as we want—to our spiritual detriment. But he would rather see us progress steadily in this wonderful relationship of love between ourselves and the whole body of Christ.
We see the fallen human nature that we all have. We certainly see faults in ourselves. Let us determine to help and encourage each other through close contact and through the outpouring of sympathy and forgiveness. We are all of the one body, and members in particular.
Each one of you is special to our heavenly Father. It is our prayer that all of our dear brethren will become very special to each other.