One in the body of Christ

Published 11:03 pm Friday, August 24, 2012

By Chris Surber
Guest Columnist

Among my favorite memories from the time I spent as a Marine Corps photographer are a collection of images I captured on film and in my mind of Military Police Dog training.

In fact, I can immediately recall the red eyes of a particular dog named “Damon.” These dogs were fierce. They were not all terribly large dogs, as far as German Shepherds go, although they were all well-muscled, well-disciplined, well-trained, and, well … intimidating.

Email newsletter signup

I occasionally documented regular training exercises of the dogs and handlers, but above all I looked forward to the annual demonstration that the military police put on for the base and community. The dog handlers would demonstrate commands, run the canines through obstacles, and then at the end of the course each dog would be commanded to attack a mock assailant. That was the best part.

I’m not sure how they decided who drew the short straw to end up in the marshmallow suit to be attacked by the dogs, but the policeman in the suit was well protected. In spite of the violence being inflicted upon him, he was safe.

The suit was fitted tightly, well contoured to the human body; every small piece of the suit fit together perfectly to form a protective whole. He was bound so tightly into the suit he wore, it was as if it had become one with him and him with it.

God offers a similar means of protection to his people. How much more tightly is every individual follower of Jesus fit into the body of Jesus? God is ultimately our protection, but the means of that protection, the spring of His provision, is the body of Christ. Jesus saves us individually. This is true. However, He saves us individually and then fastens us into place in His body.

A primary theme of the Gospel is that we believers we are drawn so close to Jesus by the love of God that we actually become His body. At the same time, we are drawn so close to one another through this mystical union with Christ that we become part of one another in the body of Christ.

The Church is not a necessary evil for the purpose of individual worship. The Church is the invisible yet indivisible body of Jesus in the world comprised of broken and genuinely imperfect people everywhere who genuinely follow Jesus and confess Him as true.

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV84)

If you confess Jesus, as He is portrayed as saving Lord and Son of God in the Scriptures, no matter what institutional plaque hangs over the door of your meeting house for worship, regardless of worship style, regardless of race, regardless of a great many secondary things, you and I are cells in the same body. We are a part of one another and of Christ.