The Church His Body
The Church, which is His Body is the vessel, the 'embodiment,' of the Lord the Spirit, in which and by which He is to express Himself. If the Church, as we met it and moved among its members, accorded with the Divine idea, we should know what the Lord was like. Let us take this to heart: that our very existence as the Church is in order that people may know what Christ is like. Alas, we fail Him so much in this. It is often so difficult to detect the real character of the Lord Jesus in His people. But that is the very first meaning of the Body of Christ.
But further - and here we are on familiar ground - a physical body is an organic whole. It is not something put together from the outside. It is something that is marked by a oneness, by reason of a life within; it is related and inter-related in every part, dependent and inter-dependent; every remotest part is affected by what happens in any other part. That could be much enlarged upon. But we have much more yet to learn as to the actual spiritual application of this reality about the Church as the Body of Christ. We need to be brought right into that great 'sympathetic system' of the Body. And that demands a real work of grace in us. There are many ways in which that is expressed in the Word. We are to "remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; them that are evil entreated, as being yourselves also in the body" (Hebrews 13:3); that is, we are to get into their situations by the Spirit. It is an organic whole. 'If one member suffer, all the members suffer with it' (1 Corinthian 12:26). It is probable that we suffer a good deal for things that we know nothing about. There is suffering going on, and we are involved in it: the Lord is seeking to involve us in the needs of others, to bring us into their conflict.
But, whether or not we apprehend this truth, whether or not we are alive to it and understand it, it is God's fact that it is so. Believers in one place are dependent upon believers in another place; they are affected. This is such a whole; there is one sympathetic nerve-system running through the whole body. If only you and I really became spiritually more alive, the expression of the Body would be much more perfect. Our deadness, our insensitiveness, our lack of real spiritual aliveness, results in there being more suffering, more loss, than there need be.
If only we could - not mechanically, and not by information, but on the principle of the Body - be moved into a universal sympathy and cooperation with the people of God! Our moving is so often mechanical; we have to read or hear letters, somehow receive information, in order to be stimulated to some measure of prayer. But I believe that, altogether apart from those means, if we were really in the Spirit, the Spirit would lay burdens for people on our hearts. Do you not thing that it is a matter that we ought continually to bring before the Lord? 'Lord, there is someone praying today for something: is it possible that I might be the answer to their prayer? If so, show me, lead me, lay it on me." That is spiritual relatedness, aliveness. The oneness of the Body is a great vocation.
(continued with # 33 - (Corporate Prayer)