Romans 12:4-5: The Body
- Unity and diversity
- One of another
Your viewing affects your doing. Your perspective on a thing will affect how you act. For example, if sexual intercourse is viewed as an expression of love for marriage and prefigures our consummate union with God, this will affect how you view your sexuality and what you do with it. Worldview shapes action; belief shapes doing. Paul knows this and so as he is calling us to be living sacrifices, he calls us to serve in the church. But you will see that Paul doesn’t call it the church he calls it ‘one body.’ He outlines a view of the church which should affect how we act towards it. Paul has told us that in order to serve faithfully in the church we need a correct perspective of ourselves. Now he is introducing us to a correct perspective on the church, it is ‘one body in Christ.’ Your view of the church will make all the difference to your service of the church.
There is an endless tedium of wrong views of the church that have resulted in wrong action. For example, many Christians today think that because they are part of the invisible Church/universal church, but that they don’t have to be part of the visible church/the local church. They do not prioritise meeting with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s Day. An inadequate view of the church as both visible and invisible, local and universal leads to this error. Two great errors which shape our activity in and towards the church are institutionalism and individualism. Institutionalism is an antisupernatural pragmatism that forgets the spiritual nature of the church and emphasizes organization at the expense of the church as an organism, and fails to acknowledge the Bible as the norm for the church and follows worldly trends and principles. This is dross that has carried over from the management revolution of the last century. Individualism is another view that shapes how people treat the church. Consumer preferences, comfortable practices and timetables, entertainment oriented approaches and other selfish concerns become driving forces for engagement with the church. Paul presents us with a view of the church which should revolutionise your view of the church and your approach to it. In Romans 12:4-5 Paul lays out some basic assumptions about the church before he goes on to talk about service in the church. In these verses we want to ensure that we are thinking correctly that we can then go and act correctly. We will see three things. Firstly, we will see the concept of the church as a body. Secondly, the necessary implication of unity and diversity that flows from the fact we are a body; and thirdly, the nature of the relationship and its implications for our interrelating.