What are we Building: The Body of Christ

written by Larry Doornbos

Text: 1 Corinthians 12

Leaders build. They build a sanctuary in time, a community of joy, a city on a hill, a house on a rock (see previous devotionals), and they build a community that is the body of Christ.

To build a house, you start with the foundation, and then you build the walls.

When we build a house, we start with building a good foundation. When we build a vibrant community of Jesus, we do the same: we build a good foundation—God’s deep love and desire for us and our deep love for God and passion for his glory.

On this great foundation come the walls, the church. The church is unique among all organizations on earth because:  

  • She was bought with Christ’s blood. (Acts 20.28)
  • The presence of the triune God is her defining characteristic (as seen in the central images of the church – “the people of God,” “the body of Christ,” and “the temple of the Holy Spirit”).
  • She is an alternative city-state, “the city of God” that stands in contrast and exposes the ways of all other powers and realms. (Hebrews 11)
  • She calls for our ultimate allegiance. (Hebrews 11)
  • She exists for the praise of God’s glory. (Ephesians 1)
  • She forms us through Word and Sacrament—which the Spirit empowers.
  • She gives the world a picture of God’s present and coming kingdom.
  • She gives the world a foretaste of God’s coming kingdom by her life and actions.
  • She is God’s ambassador to the world, calling all people and all things to be reconciled to God.

We treat the church lightly.  We see it as a vendor of goods and services for us.  God however, treats the church as weighty.  He declares this the body of his son.  This is where his Spirit dwells and a new order of the world is revealed.  Craig Bartholomew reminds us that when we see the church as the body of Christ, we get a big view of the church. 

A big, biblical view of Christ will result in an extensive view of the church. Far too often, despite what we confess, our church practices reveal a small truncated view of Christ.

When we have a big view of Christ and his bride, we see what the church truly is:  the bride of Christ where his Spirit dwells and reveals a new world order. Carl Braaten speaks this reality boldly, 

“The church is Christ as his bodily presence in the world, prefiguring the future of the world in the kingdom of God.” 

When we ask ourselves at this moment, “What am I building?”, may one of the answers be “the body of Christ.”