Early in my walk with the Lord, I attended a prayer meeting at church. As we prayed, Adam’s formation came to mind: I imagined particles of dust swirling together, sculpting Adam’s body in mid air (Gen. 2:7). When the body was formed, God breathed life into the whole of him. Adam rose to his feet.
The Lord said Adam’s formation pictures Christ’s resurrection. Christ came from the ground (His tomb) as Adam did. He was raised by the glory of the Father (Rom. 6:4). But Jesus wasn’t raised as an individual. Scripture says we were raised with Him as one New Man (Eph. 2:6, 15).
Next, the Lord showed me a few dust particles being removed from Adam’s body. He asked me whether these particles had life apart from the body. The answer was, no, they did not. This is obvious enough. Separate any part of my body from me and it will die…quickly.
Call this a vision or divinely guided imagination. Whatever it was, it continues to shape my faith: I do not have life apart from Christ’s body. I do not have one connection to our Head and another to His body. In the mind of God there is just one Jesus: Head and body. I cannot be connected to the Head and not the body.
Similarly, I do not have life in myself apart from the body. Nobody panic: Jesus dwells in me individually–as I am connected to His body. The breath of God enlivened every part of Adam. But separating a finger or toe from his body meant separating it from the breath of God.
Some might struggle with what I’m saying. Didn’t Paul write, “your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God?” (1 Cor. 6:19). Yes he did. And guess what? Every “you” and “your” in that verse is plural. A sanctuary isn’t built of one stone (1 Peter 2:4-5). In other words, “The body you all are is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you all.” But what about Colossians 1:27: “Christ in you, the hope of glory”? Yep, the “you” is plural in that verse as well: “Christ in you all, the hope of glory.”
So when I talk about being connected to the body, do I mean “going to church”? Not necessarily. There are many ways to be connected to Christ’s body. You may go to church in the traditional sense. You may fellowship in homes or on the net. You may connect with the body through the writings of people that have fallen asleep in Christ.
The fact is, Christ’s body is spiritual, and our connection to it is spiritual (1 Cor. 12:13). That connection is not determined by or dependent on our activities in time and space. Still, “the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1:14). (Did you notice it says “among *us*”?) Spiritual things manifest. Our spiritual connection to Christ’s body works out somehow in time and space.
John Donne, monk and poet wrote, “No man is an island / Entire of itself / Every man is a piece of the continent /A part of the main.” None of us is entire unto ourselves in the Lord. Paul asked where the body would be if every member were an eye or ear (1 Cor. 12:17). We can well imagine him asking what good the eye is outside the body. Paul goes on to say, “So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Cor. 12:26).
Everyone in Christ exists in living connection to each other. The body of Christ is a spiritual organism, not individuals meeting in buildings (though we may meet in buildings). While we are certainly individual members of Christ, our overarching identity is Christ–the many membered Man (1 Cor. 12:27).
Sometimes I fear we have not let this identity sink in. We live as individual Christians who relate to an individual Jesus. But Jesus prayed, “May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us” (John 17:21). Fellowship isn’t an activity. It’s who we are. And this verse really gets to the heart of things: God Himself is a fellowship, not a monolith. How can you or I truly image God on our own?