Your relationship with Jesus has dramatic effects and implications on your relationships with other people – especially people within the church. Consider what Paul says in Galatians 3:26-28:
“In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
All believers are united in Christ. Baptism by immersion serves as a symbol of this new position. Once we were in the world, but now we have been taken out of the world. We are so immersed in Jesus that He touches every part of who we are. Then the Bible says that His righteousness is imputed to us. That means that all of His perfections are deposited into the accounts of His people. We are wrapped with and clothed with His righteousness.
When the scripture says, you are “all one in Christ Jesus,” it means that we are united with every other person who is also united with Jesus, in a position of immersion and imputation.
- Our “oneness” in Christ is true on a global level. Through our connection to Christ, we are united with Christians all over the world and all throughout history – most of whom we have never met. Wherever we are, we are never far from the family of God. The people of God have family everywhere! However, it’s difficult to do life together on a global level or to be in fellowship with historical figures that are already in heaven. There is an immediate spiritual family that requires our most focused attention.
- Our “oneness” in Christ is best expressed and worked out in the context of the local church. Our church family at home gives us the most opportunities for service, equipping, training, and fellowship.
When Paul speaks of the church being a body, it is implied that the body involves those who we are personally connected with. Listen to his description of the church in Romans 12:5, “we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”
Paul uses the illustration of a body intentionally. Any one part of a body has obligations to the other parts of the body. My eyes and heart and legs all have to work together seamlessly if I’m going to walk from one place to another. If my knee decides it’s not going to function one day, it has an adverse effect on my ability to do anything else.
In the church, the verse says quite plainly that we “are one body in Christ,” and that the individual pieces are members of the whole. My ability to serve the body of Christ does not belong to me. It belongs to the body:
- My abilities to teach, understand theology, play music, pray, design graphics, and lead a church are not mine to be kept for myself. Those abilities belong to you as the body of Christ.
- Your ability to administer, sing, pray, witness, love children, fix cars, give sacrificially, visit the elderly, or host a Bible study does not belong to you. Your God-given abilities belong to the body, not to yourself.
When we are “in Christ” that means we are connected to and responsible for other believers. You can’t be a healthy part of God’s family while avoiding the needs of the body. I hope it’s becoming clear that the church is not just a meeting you attend on Sundays, it is a family that you belong to.
If God is your Father, then His people are your family. We show love for Jesus by treating God’s family the way our Father tells us to treat them. On the other hand, if we mistreat God’s family, it is as if we are mistreating Jesus Himself. Consider Jesus’ words to Saul on the road to Damascus.
Saul (who became Paul later in the Bible) had been aggressively and systematically trying to stamp out Christianity. The account in Acts 9 states that He thought he was doing a good thing until the risen Christ appeared to Saul and said these penetrating words, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”
Saul was confused. He was trying to root out a group that he thought was a cultic distortion of Judaism. In verse 5 he asks, “Who are you, Lord?” Saul knew the appearance of a divine being was of great significance. Notice what Jesus says to Saul at the end of verse 5, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”
When Saul mistreated God’s people, He was mistreating God’s Son, Jesus. The relationship between Jesus and His people is so tight that what you do to them, you do to Jesus. Christ is utterly connected to His people, so on the positive side, the ministry you have to God’s people is done as if it is ministry done to Jesus Himself.