V. Functional Union (continued)
Inclusive Function: Expressing the Personality - Christ (continued)
On the other hand, it is possible to underestimate and be careless about the boy, and that is equally evil. To be careless, slovenly, shabby in your bodily presence dishonors the personality, it takes something from the man, it degrades him. That could be applied in many ways. We make the observation as we go on that we must honor the Body of Christ. We are under obligation to keep the Body in respect for the sake of the One who is inside. While I speak, of course, of the fellowship of the Lord's people - the mutual honoring and respecting and helping and trying to elevate the standard of spiritual life; keeping things from becoming spiritually shabby and threadbare and down at heel, it does have - and forgive the somewhat mundane application - it does have an application to our personal presence, as to whether we, as Christians, in our personal appearance are really discrediting our Lord, by carelessness in habits or in dress, in behavior or manners. These things let the Lord down. As Christians we ought to be far above them. Now I am not suggesting to you that you at once go and begin to elaborate your personal adornment, but I do say that Christ deserves to be honored by the body and in the body, and it is possible t sin against Christ by carelessness with regard to the body. I would like to follow that more closely in our mutual care of one another - what the Word calls "provoking one another to good works," and "washing one another's feet"; that is, helping one another to keep from the earth, to keep out of touch with the low level of this world.
We turn now to look at some things of primary account. The things that we have just been considering are perhaps only relatively important but there are also the greater things, the things of primary account for the full expression of the personality. I am using that word deliberately, for the time being, instead of Christ, because you will get the point better, I think, if I do so. For the full expression of the personality, which is Christ, thee must be first of all a body, and a body, as we have read in 1 Corinthians 12, is not so many individual scattered members. The body is not so many disconnected or unconnected members. The Body of Christ is the fellowship of believers, in the Holy Spirit, in a very definite, conscious relatedness, involving an inward registration and recognition that we are all related to all the Lord's people, that locality in this matter is not the final criterion, that we are related to the Lord's people everywhere. That is, indeed, most definitely emphasized in the New Testament as an absolute necessity for the full expression of Christ. The full expression of Christ cannot come through unrelated individual believers. There may be some small, some partial expression of Christ in such, but fullness requires relatedness, and I challenge you on this matter. It is open to proof and it is constantly demonstrated. Your measure of Christ depends upon your relatedness. You will never get beyond a certain small degree of the expression of Christ in isolation, in separation, in independence, in apartness. The increase of your measure of the expression of Christ demands that you are in vital union with other members of His Body. I cannot be too emphatic about that, because I see everywhere the spiritual limitations and even the spiritual ravages resulting from the loss of that great reality. The Body must exist; there must be relatedness. And not just as an abstract thing; it must be real, it must be conscious, it must be deliberate, it must be a part of the very life. We know it - and if we do not know it, satan knows it - but the Lord knows it.
(continued with # 37 - (Interrelatedness )