Rom 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 12:12-27; Eph. 4:4-16; Col. 1:18,24 – all speak of the church as the “body of Christ”, a body with many members dependent on one another and responsible to one another, united under the headship of Christ. Holy Spirit inspired authors speak this way, Heavenly Father designed it this way – not to be mean or confining but for our good. Specific benefits/blessings accrue to members of the body who are vitally connected/involved, members in more than name only.
Blessings are experienced in context of relationship – not delivered in the mail or over the internet. Life in the Body is to model as closely as possible life in Heaven, an eternal Garden of Eden, relationally speaking. Pre-Fall life in the Garden completely uninhibited – perfect and complete openness, transparency, nothing to hide. Only after sin: grass skirts, taking cover in the bushes, hiding from each other, God, self. Since we cannot escape effects of the Fall, modesty is essential; HOWEVER, we must not be over-zealous for privacy. NT uses phrase “one another” 44 times in addition to above passages. We should not be like those Longfellow described in “Tales of a Wayside Inn”:
Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life, we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.
Important to remember relationships are “mutual” – “We share our mutual woes, our mutual burdens bear”, 3rd verse. Just as individual benefits from body life, so body benefits from member presence. When individual is absent or distant, they particularly are deprived of blessing; at same time, blessing body as a whole receives is diminished.
Active engagement in “one anothering” puts believers in position to experience blessings of:
A. accountability v.1
guidance into making sound decisions
often occurs naturally in course of conversation/discussion; not necessarily confrontational (need for confrontation should be rare to nonexistent)
isolation narrows perspective, diminishes objectivity, causes focus to turn inward; often those who isolate themselves purposefully are pursuing personal agenda, do not want to be corrected
Christian relating decision they made and how arrived at can unwittingly teach/guide others; Christian discussing decision they need to make can be guided by body language, verbal cues others give in response
active connection with local body puts believer within sphere of pastoral care/oversight/teaching; regular shaping of thought patterns to conform to biblical principles
B. protection v.10
safe from all that is not for our good, his glory
1 Cor. 10:13 No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it. NET
nothing we endure/experience that is not part of God’s plan to make us like his Son individually, to make us a fit body for his Son corporately
usually “lone rangers” who spawn greatest heresies, doctrinal errors
1 Tim. 3:15 But if I am delayed, I am writing in order that you may know how one must conduct oneself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and mainstay of the truth. LEB
not impossible to get caught up in error “in the church”! However,… task given by God to church is to proclaim and guard truth.
C. healing v.14
world and church full of hurting people: broken relationships, disappointing children, failed dreams, hardships, loss, consequences of wrong choices, all contribute to hurt and broken hearts.
body of Christ should be THE place where hurting can find healing, restoration, strength.
His name is Jesus, Jesus. Sad hearts weep no more.
He has healed the broken hearted, Opened wide the prison doors,
He is able to deliver evermore.
Ministry of Messiah: see Isa. 61:1-3
“bring good news to the poor” “bind up the brokenhearted” “oil of gladness instead of mourning” “garment of praise instead of a faint spirit”
Method of Messiah: see Isa. 42:2-3
“will not shout or yell (CEV)” “a bruised reed he will not break” “a faintly burning wick he will not quench”
fruits of Spirit: patience, kindness, gentleness
characteristics Jesus showed those who came to him for healing
blessing of additional perspective(s)
Deut. 19:15 “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.” ESV
“This is but another way of putting the old proverb that “One tale is good till another is told.” And this does not necessarily imply that the first teller of the tale is an untruthful person, but we are so apt to apprehend facts through the medium of our own prejudices—to see things in the light in which we wish to see them—that even two truthful men may sometimes vary much in their version of the same occurrence.” Harris
can be case of “what do you think about…” “have you ever heard…” “what’s your experience with…”
discussion/interaction not only provides information, helps train in right/biblical thinking and discernment
“ministry of reconciliation” entrusted to the church 2 Cor. 5:18
instructions for the offender: Matt. 5:23-24
#1 priority, even before worship, be reconciled
and the offended: Matt. 18:15-20
keep it as private as possible but remember the goal: repentance and forgiveness
enilst the help of others (carefully chosen) when necessary
F. companionship v.22
ideal place for finding good companions – body of believers
friendship casts a wide net
fellowship is with like-minded people
strength of fellowship directly related to amount of common ground
true whether spousal or casual or anything in between
especially important for close, binding relationships: marriage, business partnership
must share similar priorities and principles to avoid conflict or compromise
Helpful to remember: 4x in John 17 Jesus prayed for unity/oneness of his disciples (17:11) and those who would come to faith through their testimony (17:21, 22, 23). It is as we enjoy the blessings and benefits of “body” life that we will develop the complete unity that Jesus desired for us.