For me, the most horrid images on the ‘cop’ shows are dismembered bodies. I know they are fake, but I cannot look at them. The idea of mutilation and separation is terrible, yet it came to mind when reading today’s devotional and the Scriptures connected to it.
The author points to the wonderful relationship between Christ and His church. He says things like: ‘We are members of his body’ and ‘we are one with Christ’ and ‘the Head cannot be complete without His body’ as he describes the unity between our Redeemer and us. Even as Eve was taken from the side of Adam, the church was born from the bleeding side of Christ, the second Adam; He died that we might live.
The Scriptures use many images to describe this union and the care Christ has for His church, His body. When describing how a man ought to love his wife, it should be like the care he gives his own body . . .
“For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.” (Ephesians 5:29–30)
The Bible also uses the image of a vine with its branches:
“I am the true vine . . . Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” (John 15:1–17)
Abide is a soft, gentle word, yet with a strong meaning. Jesus is calling His people to ‘remain, stay, continue, endure, be present in Him’ — just as He remains, stays, continues, endures and stays present with us. This union is never to be ‘dismembered’ in the sense that we should not separate ourselves from Jesus because He will never separate Himself from us.
This kind of unity is beyond imagination. I can visualize the opposite in the images from television fiction where a body is found without a head or a head without its body — shudder! However, the normal is a whole complete entity, a much easier image. Yet trying to imagine Jesus and His church as a complete, united entity is difficult, probably because too many of us who call ourselves Christians are not abiding in Him.
We have no reason not to. Incarnation means Jesus became one of us, fully man. He lived a sinless life, died as our Substitute, rose from the dead and reigns in glory. Wonder of wonders, by the new birth, the Son of God gives His people His nature. We are described as His bride. He prepared wedding garments, wooed and won our hearts, then made us His own. We belong to Christ.
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20)
Jesus, my body is Yours, along with millions of others who believe in You. Together we are one Body, one with You and with each other, a marvelous truth and a reality to think about and enjoy. Deepen my sense of this unity, both with You and with other Christians and make abiding in You the most natural way to live.