“For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).
A Christian is someone who is a true follower of Christ rather than a person who attends a place of worship. A Christian is someone who adheres to the teachings of Scripture and not some religious leader or organisation. A Christian fashions his or her life after Christ and aims to be faithful to Him regardless of personal cost. Therefore a Christian is part of the body of Christ, strives to be in complete subjection to its Head, and seeks to exalt the Lord in every aspect of life. The Bible, with the Holy Spirit as its interpreter, reveals the true nature of Christ and is the yardstick by which those who call themselves Christian are measured. If they possess none of the characteristics of the Head of the Church, then they are in fact impostors, and should not be fellowshipped with by genuine followers of Christ.
No one, except the Lord, has complete knowledge of everything, therefore it has never been God’s intention for any one to ‘lord it over’ His church (Matthew 20:25). The apostle Paul points out that every part of the human body has an important role for its health, and it is no different for the spiritual body of Christ. Anyone who assumes that they are more intelligent than other members and so ought to be honoured by them is in fact walking in self-righteousness rather than faith. Such people usually go on to invent new teachings that are outside of Biblical truth because they believe that they have special revelations from God. “Teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9). In doing so they are adding to and taking away from God’s word and bring upon themselves a curse. “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it” (Deuteronomy 4:2) … “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book” (Revelation 22:18). We see then that it would be wrong to fellowship with those who purposely distort the Scriptures in any way. As with the above, the fundamental truths regarding the person and nature of Christ Jesus cannot be tampered with. When men add or take away anything from Him or His word to make the gospel message more acceptable to others, then they are not teaching the true way of salvation.
Our Christian fellowship is only possible while all members are dedicated to the Head of the church and are determined to live in accordance with His revealed word. How “can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). Our point of contact is not anything other than Christ Himself. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). It is only when this is in order that we can truly function as a church.
Every member of the body must be seen as vital for the growth of the church, but each part is expected to function for the overall good of the body too. We do not all have the same capabilities, but that does not make anyone more or less valuable, instead each one has been given a role within the church. To do nothing more than turn up at meeting and warm the furniture is way below what the Lord expects of us. God has given us the Holy Spirit so that we can exercise our individual talents to the limit.
Each and every member of the body of Christ ought to do all for His glory rather than for the promotion of the church or denomination. “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). Maybe we could say that a healthy church consists of members who glorify the Lord rather than being on person ego trips and trying to outdo one another. Whenever our natural body falls ill, we treat it to bring it back to health. Sometimes a cancer or tumour takes hold and has to be removed before it can function correctly. Any error in the church can endanger it too. “Shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker” (2 Timothy 2:16-17). It is important that this cancer is removed as quickly as possible. “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself” (Titus 3:10-11). It is a shame that the church has largely ignored this command and has continued to fellowship with those who live and teach what is opposite to the truth!
Christian fellowship is exactly that, for it is limited to those who belong to Christ. “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 1:3). Fellowship on any other basis is neither Christian or true fellowship. We need the wisdom, courage and godly determination to fellowship according to the principles set out in God’s word. To dilute this important issue and worship with those who are not committed to Christ, is always detrimental to our faith and fellowship.