What is the Church (2 of 3)

This is a guest post by Doug Roberts. Learn more about Doug at timewithdoug.com and check out the book he and I co-authored with Ben Pasley, Back to Basics.

Now that we have established that the church is people and not a building, let’s talk about the design of the church, the body.

(Side note: It is important to remember that the church is not a spider web, either, which is what most people are building. The main purpose of a spider web is to catch food to feed the spider. I guess a spider web is not bad thing—if you are the spider, that is. But if you are not the spider, then you are just food to feed the spider. I will talk more about this another time.)

Ephesians 1:22 says, “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”

Now, I know the Father is an old man now; he has been around a long time. I don’t think he is senile, though. Do you? I think he knows what he is doing. And he has written here, by the Holy Spirit, that he has put all things in subjection under his feet. And he gave him—who is him? Jesus—as head over all things to the church, which is his body and the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Who is the head? Jesus.

Who is the body? We are.

How many heads are there? One.

How many bodies are there? One.

Colossians 1:18 says, “He is the head of the body, the church.” Jesus is the head of his body.

Aren’t you glad that your natural body doesn’t have more than one head? Think about it this way: Sometimes my ear itches. My head tells my finger that my ear itches and tells it to scratch it. My finger goes right to my itchy ear and scratches it. Does your body do that? When your ear itches does your head tell your finger to scratch it? Does your finger go to it and scratch it? See, the natural body has no problem relating to the head. My body understands that my head rules the rest of my body.

I wish the spiritual body acted the same way the natural body acts. When the head—  who is Jesus—tells the finger to scratch the itchy ear, what most often happens? If Jesus tells the finger (which might be the Baptists) to scratch the ear (which might be the Methodists), the finger often says, “Now, wait a minute. You know that ear has been hearing some things it doesn’t need to hear. It’s been listening to some things I don’t agree with. So I won’t obey what the head is telling me to do. I’m making a judgment against it, because it must be the devil telling me to scratch that itchy ear because Jesus wouldn’t tell me to scratch something I don’t agree with.”

Or, when the head tells the finger to scratch the ear, does the toe immediately jump up to do the job because it wants to be the finger and in its rebellion cause jealousy and envy and striving with the finger?

Christ is the head of the body, and his body must understand that it is under his rulership.

So Christ is the head of his one body, the church, but we know from 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 that the body has many members: “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks.” Whether Baptist or Methodist, whether Pentecostal or Catholic, whether tongue talkers or no-tongue talkers, “we were all baptized into one body, whether slave or free”—whether blue or green—“we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” Isn’t that what it says? It says we were all made and all baptized into the one body.

For the body is not one member, but many. Let’s look more at 1 Corinthians 12:14-26. You should probably just open your Bible to it because I’m not going to write it all out here.

The body is designed so that we need one another. God didn’t make the natural body to be independent of itself, did he? If you lose your arm, can your body still function? Yes, but it is weakened. If my right arm was not there, the rest of my body would adjust, but there would be some things I couldn’t do and that arm would be sorely missed. But in the spiritual body, we just cut off the arm because we don’t like it and we don’t ever miss it. Isn’t that an amazing contrast? Remember, the word says, “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are all one body, so also is Christ.”

What is the church? The people. Who is the head? Jesus. How many members are there? Many. Does every member have the same function? No. Each part of the spiritual body is needed by every other part in the same way that each part of the physical body is needed by every other part. We need each other. As Ephesians 4:16 says, in my own paraphrase, That which every joint supplies brings the fullness of the Father. I can’t bring the full manifold wisdom of God; I can just bring my portion.

Colossians 3:24 says that there is an inheritance stored up in the saints. I am a selfish man. I want all that God has for me, so I love relationships because in my relationships I get to tap into the inheritance that is stored up in you; I get to tap into the resource of the gift that you are to me. You can see why the devil doesn’t want the body to fellowship with one another because when we begin to fellowship with one another and every joint begins to supply its portion, then the body is healthy.

When I go to a doctor because my chest hurts the doctor checks me over and then he says, “Drop your drawers.”

I say, “Doc, my bottom is not hurting. It is my chest that is hurting.” But I drop my drawers and he sticks a needle in my derriere. And now I leave with my derriere hurting, too. But all of a sudden the medicine he gave me begins to go through my body to the infected area and that infected area starts to feeling better. The derriere had to suffer a little bit to bring healing to what needed healing.

But what happens in the spiritual body?

In the “church” that man has built, when one parts hurts the other parts rejoice and judge them and say, “Praise God, we are not like that part of the body. Lord, we knew we were right and they were wrong. Judge them some more.”

Those parts are not willing to be the “derriere” that gets the shot. They rejoice when others suffer.

We don’t understand the body of Christ. We are joined one to another. We are not independent of one another. We are connected to one another. When you are independent—when you are cut off from the rest of the body—are you still part of the body? Yes. Is there any life going to you? No, because there is no joint and no connection. What happens to a part of the natural body that is cut off? It dies. It stinketh. It is not good for anything. And there is a lot of the spiritual body that stinks because it is not connected and it is not related to the rest. It is not joined one to another. How can the Father bless that which is isolated?

When you pray for revival and ask the Father to do something and then he starts doing it down the street at another part of the body, you get mad. You say, “Well, Father? Why aren’t you doing it here? Those people don’t even believe in what you are doing. Why are you doing it there?” Because you have asked Jesus to do something in his body. The truth is, often we pray that Jesus do something in our building. But when he starts building his church, we get mad because it is not in our facility.

In the human body, one part never desires to hurt another. In my body, there is not one part that desires to hurt another part of my body. There have been times when I have been building something and I take a hammer and I hit a finger. My one hand drops that hammer and it goes to the finger and it says, “Oh! I am sorry. I didn’t mean to do that. I am hurting with you.”

But in the spiritual body, when that hammer hits that finger, we say, “Praise God! Thank you for judging the finger, Lord. Hit them again.” I promise you that if I had a hammer and I hit you in the finger, you are not going to tell me to hit you again. It is amazing that the natural body responds to one another but the spiritual body does not.

Ephesians 4:15-16 says, “We are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” If we are to understand that we are to grow up in all aspects into him, which is Jesus, the head, then we understand that everything we are to grow up into is him, not our denominations. We are not to grow up into our interpretations of scripture. We are not to grow up into our understanding of what we think we might know, but we are to grow up into Jesus. And when you grow up into Jesus, then you are going to have relationship one with another.

When I was saved, I was a lover of people. I loved everybody. If they knew Jesus, I loved them. Then all of a sudden, people started to warn me: “Well, you need to watch those people over there because those people over there believe that people can have a demon,” or “You need to watch those people over there because they believe you can speak in tongues,” or “You need to watch those people over there because they believe that God can still heal today.” So instead of remaining a lover, I became a watcher. Then I started limiting my fellowship to people that agreed with me. I would test them in my mind: Do you agree with me in this? Yeah? OK, then I can fellowship with you. Do you agree with me in that? No? Oh, well. I have been told to watch out for you, anyway.

There is stupidity in thinking that I have all of the truth. This is my 40th year in the ministry and I am still learning the ways of the Lord. When I think I know something, then the Holy Spirit gives me more understanding and I realize that I didn’t even know what I thought I knew. (However, there are two things I know for sure: The Father loves me, and the Father is killing me. He wants me to be like Jesus, and he has been faithful in both of those areas.)

Let me reiterate this: We should be connected enough that when one part suffers, all suffer. When one part rejoices, all rejoice.

June 10, 2013