Good morning, brothers and sisters, may the grace and peace of our Lord be with you!
Spirit and Body
God created man as a living soul or spiritual being (Gen 2:7). God, in his very nature, is Spirit. He shared his spiritual nature with man, so that man may also be a spiritual being. If a person wants to live like the human being he was created to be, his body must be alive, and his spirit must also be alive. Keeping the body alive requires sustenance from material substance. God gave to mankind plants and fruits as food (Gen 1:29). After the fall of man, God provided “everything that lives and move” as food, in addition to the green plants (Gen 9:3). God sustains human life by providing plants and animals as food. The spirit is different, because the spirit is born from God’s own nature. The sustenance for the spirit comes directly from God. To keep the spirit alive, one must have fellowship with God (koinonia). God loves us so much that he gave us the privilege of drawing near to him to fellowship with him. In this way, God provides life for the spirit. If a person has life in his flesh, and fellowship with God in his spirit, then he will truly be alive and will experience abundant life.
The Bible says “You have made them a little lower than the angels (or “God”, original Elohim)
and crowned them with glory and honor.” (Ps 8:5) Mankind’s glory and honor comes from his spirit. If the spirit deteriorates, man will lose his glory and honor. Is there anything that can cause a spirit to deteriorate? Yes, there is. It is sin. Sin separates man from God, and this is why the Bible says “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23) Where sin abounds, the spirit grows weak and eventually dies. Man fall short of the glory of God when his spirit stops working as it should.
Jesus Christ the Son of God, Word become flesh, gave himself to die on the cross, in order to pay the penalty for the sins of mankind and thus destroy the barrier that prevents fellowship between God and man. If anyone believes in Jesus, God gives his righteousness (the basis of restoring the relationship between God and man) to all who believe, for there is no distinction (Rom 3:22). God brings these people into the body of Christ, without distinction. Jesus is the head, and they are his body, which is the church. The church is spiritual, because Jesus is the head. The Triune God, who is in very essence Spirit, is now the head of the church through the person of Jesus Christ the Lord. This spiritual church is one body. This body has physical substance, but this physical substance is one entity. It is not made up of many individuals being in the same building, but rather, it is the integration of many individuals into one body. In this way, God, by the redemption through salvation in Jesus Christ, restores mankind to its original design, with both a spirit and a body. The spirit has fellowship with God, and the body is one.
The restoration of humanity is in Christ, or to be more precise, is in Christ’s church. When we are connected and united with Christ, and through Christ we are connected to the other members of the body, this will restore our humanity and reveal God’s glory. It is the church that displays God’s glory, not individuals. It is the body with Christ as the head that reflects God’s glory, not you or any other individual. Jesus said “Let your (plural) light shine before men in such a way that they may see your (plural) good works, and glorify your (plural) Father who is in heaven.” (Mt 5:16) This “you (plural)” refers to many people, not one individual. If you are prone to “hero worship” and tend to exalt certain Christians, or you delude yourself into thinking that you have achieved a superior spiritual status, you will face bitter consequences. Brothers and sisters, God’s glory is in the church, and is in Jesus Christ. Only when the whole body is connected to Christ and to each other, walking humbly with the Lord and walking as one with each other, then will there be glory.
To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. (Eph 3:21)
There is No Distinction
The church as described in the Bible is a beautiful church united in Christ. We are justified by faith, redeemed by Jesus, and there is no distinction.
Even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction (Rom 3:22)
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:26-28)
The following is a fictional dialogue, which highlights a common problem: in reality, the church is not united. Some brothers and sisters come from a certain country/city A, while others come from country/city B. A brother who is from country A often made some discriminatory remarks about people from country B, and this caught the attention of the pastor.
“I heard that you often make discriminatory remarks about people from country B, is that right?” the pastor asks.
“Well, …, perhaps I do that sometimes, but it’s not just me!”
“Do you think this is what the Bible teaches, to discriminate or belittle others?”
“Of…of course not, it’s my own choice, but this is commonplace in the society now.”
“Do you think it is right to bring secular worldviews into God’s house, and destroy the fellowship of believers?”
“This…, well, maybe it is a little wrong, but really, there are many others who do this.”
“We are all sinners, saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, there is no distinction. Jesus didn’t discriminate, and yet you are being divisive within the church, spreading discriminatory and inflammatory language. Our church does not need a “Christian” like you, please leave!”
“What? What type of church would ask a person to leave?”
“Our church is one such church. Please leave!”
Perhaps this dialogue is a bit dramatic, but it gives a real portrayal of how the church is influenced by secular culture. In a real-life church, the truth of “one body” is often impossible to realize, because just as in society, there are many divisions within the church. People differentiate among each other based on where a person is born or where he is raised, as well as on a person’s race, nationality, wealth, societal status, or even gender. There will always be those people who feel superior and consider others inferior. Some will be vocal about this gap, while others may not say anything, but once you get to know them, you will feel their subtle superiority. Brothers and sisters, a true born-again believer will always have a humble attitude—the Son of God died for even a sinner like me! The cross has demolished all my pride, and I must walk humbly with the Lord on this new path. Dear brothers and sisters, division is a consequence of pride, and will only disappear when we humble ourselves. Jesus was the utmost example of humility, he lowered himself from an incomparable height. Paul tells us that we must have the same attitude as Christ Jesus.
Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Php 2:5-8)
Thanks be to God, for even though the church is not perfect, as long as its members are born again with new lives in Christ, and are connected to Christ the head, we can look to Jesus and align ourselves with his will, gradually growing into maturity, and reflecting the glory of God. Amen!