“For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself” (Romans 14:7).
As we study the New Testament images of the church, we quickly begin to realize the fact that we cannot live the Christian life in isolation. There are to be no “Lone Ranger” Christians, and even the Lone Ranger had Tonto! As Christians, we belong to each other, we affect each other, and we need each other. In a society that screams, “Look out for number one” and “It’s all about me,” the Bible tells us as believers that we are to focus on the needs of others.
“Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Philippians 2:4).
Here are just some of the images of the church found in the New Testament:
1. We Are Children in the Same Family.
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).
God’s family is a large one, and it encompasses the world and spans the generations. As a part of God’s forever family, we share His divine nature, enjoy His mercy and grace, and one day we will share His heavenly home. We can sing, “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God” and really mean it!
Even though our heavenly Father is perfect, His spiritual family on earth is not. Every family has its members who make us feel proud as well as its “black sheep” who make us feel ashamed, but family is family and we must learn to love and forgive one another.
2. We Are Members of the Same Body.
“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” (Romans 12:4-5).
In his letter to the believers at Corinth, Paul mentioned several images of the church, but the one that he emphasized the most was that of the body (I Corinthians 12-14). If you stop and think about it, the human body is the ideal picture of unity and diversity. We all have different parts of the body that perform unique functions (eyes, ears, hands, feet, etc.), and yet we are just one body!
In a similar way, each member of the Body of Christ has a role to play and a function to perform if the Body is to grow and remain healthy. Each and every member is needed, and no part should think it is more important than any other part. We need to do our part and we need each other as well!
3. We Are Soldiers in the Same Army.
“Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (II Timothy 2:3).
The church is an army to fight the devil and sin, not to fight each other! The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world, but we depend on the mighty weapons of the Word of God and prayer, as well as the power of the Holy Spirit. Our battle is against spiritual enemies that can only be defeated by spiritual means.
No matter what their rank or responsibility, everybody in the army is important and is expected to do his or her job. We must care for one another and watch over one another with brotherly love. It reminds me of the motto of the Three Musketeers, “one for all and all for one.” Without that attitude, it’s extremely doubtful that we will achieve victory.
4. We Are Athletes on the Same Team.
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain” (I Corinthians 9:24).
Paul used numerous athletic images in his epistles. He also emphasized teamwork, for without team members pulling together, there can be no victory. Remember this, “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’.” When you find a church where the members don’t care who gets the credit as long as God gets the glory, you’ll find a “team” that is making points for the Lord and winning the game.
Someone said that TEAM stands for “Together Everybody Accomplishes More.” I like that! The church is a team!
Others… in the family… in the Body… in the army… on the same team. OTHERS! Get the picture?