Unity in the Body of Christ as Innate Sameness, Wholeness & Purity
ARC GUIDE LEVEL 3
Ideal for those well acquainted with our thought process at Ammi Ruhama Community.
Let’s revisit unity in the body of Christ. Unity is often presented in conversation as ‘sameness,’ within the body of Christ, and as a result we ask the questions like, “What are we supposed to be the same in”. This is not an overly terrible question, but it isn’t terribly helpful either as, when we answer with anything other than love, we get some pretty awful permutations of the body saying that we all have to believe one doctrine over another or have this hope over that one. So let’s leave the sameness track of the conversation of unity for a moment and examine the more wholistic concept of unity as wholeness, purity and innate sameness.
The Entirety of Wholeness
Let us assume that we have an apple. There are several questions we can ask about the apple. Is it a whole apple, is it purely apple and is it the same apple? When considering unity we usually only ask one of these questions, but all three of them and probably more are relevant in answering the question of the apple’s oneness.
The Whole Apple
Asking the first question, “is the apple whole,” is a very restrictive question. This may seem obvious but if parts of the apple are divided, missing or intentionally excluded then we do not have one whole apple. The apple is not one with itself.
The Same Apple
Asking if something is the same, is not like asking if it is whole. Let’s assume we have two halves of an apple, they are each one half of an apple and are therefore the same having the similar characteristics but neither are one whole apple. Also we could not say of a whole apple that it is entirely the same as anything other than itself. Even another whole apple would mean that we have two whole yet distinct apples; they are not one with one another.
The Pure Apple
This is again, not the same as asking if it is purely apple as in the event that a chunk is missing and has been replaced with some other piece of of fruit that has been cut to fit the space. The apple’s purity is intrinsically tied to its wholeness
The Whole, Same, Pure Body of Christ
If all of this holds true then the Word ought to support such a definition of unity in the body of Christ; and in fact, it does.
The Whole Body
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.1 Corinthians 12:21-26 English Standard Version
The body then is not one unless all of the parts are present and, in Paul’s estimation, equally valued.
The Pure Body
1See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appearsa we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.1 John 3:1-3 English Standard Version
The impure body is not a unified body. If the world had never seen an apple then they wouldn’t recognise nor probably taste another example of an apple if it was presented to them to eat. Our unity then is secondarily in hope in that we ensure that we are individually and collectively pure children of God with not a hint of the world in us as we look forward to the most pure one’s coming.
The Same Body
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; 5 and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; 6 and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. 7 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.1 Corinthians 12:4-11 English Standard Version
As we can see from our example and Paul’s, we do not have a “similar,” spirit but the very same Holy Spirit of God who lives in us, among a list of other same things and we are therefore not a grouping of similar bodies but a singular body with the same elements. We are the very same people of God who have received mercy.
Further Study Needed
More study is needed to present this concept of unity to you. 1 Corinthians continues to be a loudhailer of unity in the body of Christ that I should be surprised more haven’t picked up on, except that we have poisoned its message with other concepts of ‘acceptable,’ divisions. More will follow accordingly.