The responsibility of being a member of the body of Christ
“For we are members of his body; we are of his flesh, and of his bones” (Eph 5:30).
I study to enter more into the great responsibilities which devolve on us as members of the body of Christ. Can we at all estimate the quality and grandeur of our position as of His body here on earth? We are not simply disciples or saved ones. It is not with us as with God’s people heretofore, separate from all other people, receiving from God and worshipping Him, as men in the flesh. Such was the moral economy in Old Testament times; but how different to be Christ’s body on the earth, for as such, it is not merely that I have received even the highest favours from Christ, but I am of Christ.
It is quite possible for me to have received great favours from Him, and yet not to be consciously in that close union with Him, which as a member of His body, I enjoy. As a member of His body, I am part of Himself, and I am, because of my calling, required to do everything suited to Him, and as He would do it.
There is a great difference between being a recipient of the greatest favours, and being a member of the body of One who can confer the greatest favours. A recipient might be like a guest in the house of a great king — every good thing in the house conferred on him, but all the time he must feel that he had no living link to the king. “He that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit”; I am made to know that I am of Him, which no saint ever was before the church period.
Everything conferred on a saint before, though it all necessarily drew out his heart in thanksgiving to God, never made him more than individually exalted. The pian was exalted by the favours, but he had no sense of greatness, beyond the favours. Now a saint’s highest glory is that he is not merely in the house of the great King, but one with Him, and therefore connected with all His glory. We all in some measure see this as future’, but what I feel is, that we so little set forth here on earth that we are in this wonderful relationship to Christ now.
We are of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones; and it ought to be a matter of deeper interest to us to carry out and maintain the identification with Him, while we are where He is rejected and refused, than it will be to display it in the age to come, where there will be no one to deny Him, or to refuse Him His title.
I believe that if each of us felt individually the dignity and gravity of our calling here as a member of Christ’s body on earth, we should without effort, make other things secondary to it. If one of our greatest friends had been expelled out of this world, and we heard that we could keep alive his body and thus maintain communication with him by simple devotedness to him, how reproachable it would be if we never in any measure contributed to its resuscitation, wonderful phenomenon as it would be. But now it is still more wonderful; we are made His members — His body on earth; and wherever two or three are, there ought to be and, if there were faithfulness, would be, an expression of His body.
What higher dignity, office, or duty on earth can I have than that which a member of Christ’s body involves? And wherever I am on the face of the globe, if I am walking faithfully, I am helping and invigorating the whole body of Christ on earth; but if I am walking carelessly, and grieving the Spirit, my sense of union is weakened, and I am hindering the whole body.
I may have natural duties here, but they only determine my sphere and locality, not my purpose. To be a member of Christ’s body on earth, is my highest dignity, my glory, and duty. But God orders whether I am to do garrison duty, or field duty, or house duty.
Wherever I am, I am of the royal corps, and I maintain that I am one of it; no matter whether in camp or at depot, whether a parent or child or servant; the post where I am set has really nothing to do with my commission in the royal corps, though I acquit myself honourably in the post assigned to me.
He is not a good soldier who cannot maintain his duty unless he is allowed to choose the post which he thinks easiest. The general sends me, and places me where he thinks best, and if I am a true soldier, I am not thinking of my circumstances, that is of my post, but how to acquit myself best in my post. He is a bad soldier who thinks more of his post than of his duty as a soldier. This some Christians do, they think more of their family duties than of their duties to Him of whose body they are members on earth.