One of the ways the New Testament describes the church is as the body of Christ. But how is the church Christ’s body, and what does that mean for how we live together?
When the church is described as Christ’s body, it means, basically, that the church is Christ’s representative here on earth, with Christ as its head (Col. 1:18). This means that the church is an extension of Christ’s ministry, carrying out His work by fulfilling the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20).
The picture of the church as the body of Christ also reveals something significant about individual Christians: each one of us plays a unique role in the church. None of us is more significant than another. And we all need one another. Growing in Christ, becoming more like Jesus, is something we do together. One member’s concern is everyone’s concern. “If one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Cor. 12:26).
The picture of the church as the body of Christ is a challenging one, especially for people living in highly individualistic cultures. But when we embrace this reality—that none of us can truly flourish without the other—we can be sure that God will work powerfully through us for His glory and our joy.