I have had some trouble lately with some pain. It’s been a little random through my chest and abdominal area, often a stabbing pain, sometimes a burning feeling, but ever pleasant. I have had tests and labs and appointments to try to find out what the issue is. They are beginning to suspect I have an ulcer or maybe a couple of ulcers in my stomach and esophagus. Last year I had some surgery on my stomach and esophagus to repair a problem, and it seems to have ulcers in the same area. What I have discovered which this and my other stomach and esophageal issues is, when you mess up part of the system, everything goes awry. The feelings and sensations that come with having an ulcer cause you to change your eating and diet, which often leads to other problems. In my case, I quit eating which caused me to feel weak and fatigued. I had trouble sleeping, which caused more fatigue. One part of the body begins to take over attention from all the other parts of the body.
As I have dealt with these issues, I have wondered something. I know that we as the local church call ourselves the body of Christ, but do we as a collective whole as the SBC make up a body? Are we a unified body? Does it work that each church forms a part of a bigger body and Christ is the head, or does each church form a body with Christ the head, which makes us a group of individual bodies of Christ. Is the SBC one Christ, or a group of Christs? I am not sure I have ever considered the question before now, does does the structure relate to the body?
There are many who would say that each local church, being autonomous is the body of Christ. Some refer to the church and say it’s the universal body of Christ. I am not sure you could say that the SBC in the body of Christ and leave out other Bible believing evangelical, I am not comfortable with that, but for the sake of argument. . . well for the message of this article, let’s look at the SBC as the body of Christ.
Pauls tells us:
For as the body is one and has many parts, and all the parts of that body, though many, are one body —so also is Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body —whether Jews or Greeks, whether •slaves or free —and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. So the body is not one part but many. (1 Corinthians 12:12-14 HCSB)
If we are all the body, then each of us makes up a vital part. Paul continues:
If the foot should say, “Because I’m not a hand, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I’m not an eye, I don’t belong to the body,” in spite of this it still belongs to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But now God has placed each one of the parts in one body just as He wanted. And if they were all the same part, where would the body be? Now there are many parts, yet one body. So the eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” Or again, the head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” But even more, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are necessary. And those parts of the body that we think to be less honorable, we clothe these with greater honor, and our unpresentable parts have a better presentation. But our presentable parts have no need of clothing. Instead, God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable, so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other. So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. (1 Corinthians 12:15-26 HCSB)
Here is my point, and what I think the necessary implications are. If the SBC is a body, and we are made up of different parts with Christ as the head, then when we devour one another, we are eating our own body. If we devour someone from their theological perspective, try to move the convention to exclude Born again, Bible Believing, Christians because of a theological difference, what does that do to the body? What if the eye gets rid of the ear because the ear can’t see? The nose keeps sneezing, to the mouth and eyes team up to get rid of it? What impact does that have on the body? Can we really claim to love Jesus but despise the people that Jesus loves because they don’t agree with us? That doesn’t really seem to me to be the way the body works.
So, is the SBC a body, or is it limited to the local, autonomous churches, whereas one body can be separate from another body and Christ is a group instead of one? If the SBC is a body, what impact is caused by the divisions and conflict? If the SBC is part of a larger body, what part do we play, and are we doing damage to the Body of Christ in the world?