Romans 12:5. so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Yesterday we looked at Paul’s warning to us concerning conceit. The Christian is to avoid haughtiness and pride, superiority and inferiority. The Christian is called to humility.
Romans 12:3. I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think
But how do we overcome the conceit that plagues us all?
First and foremost, we must embrace as reality our union with Christ. Paul says that we are “one body in Christ.” Christian, your life is in Christ. All that is his is yours. His position is your position. His love is your love. His life is your life. You did not earn this or deserve this. This most humbling of truths, if you will allow it to soak deep into your heart, if you will meditate on it day and night, if you will stop resisting it, is the only thing that can begin to make you truly humble. Self-forgetful. Free from superiority and inferiority.
Second, we must practice our union with Christ through mutual ministry. Union with Christ beautifully unites us all into Christ while maintaining our diversity. Just like the “two become one” in marriage, the many become one in Christ. This is far beyond just having Christ in common, something to talk about on Sunday mornings. Paul says we “are members one of another.” We are parts of each other. Everything you do as a Christian impacts the body. It either helps or hurts other Christians. There is no private Christianity. No strictly personal faith. Each of your sins and all of your faith impacts me. And the rest of the church.
Our mutuality, our belonging to one another, is what moves us out from underneath ourselves. It takes us out of our own narcissism and moves us into true unconditional love. The reality of mutuality means that we are not self-reliant. We are not self-sustaining. We are not self-actualizing. We need each other. Live together die alone.
You see, my conceit isn’t just hurting me. It’s hurting everyone. How? Because it robs the body of me and my gifts. It keeps me, as part of the body, from functioning at full capacity in Christ.
Union with Christ and mutuality go hand in hand. If you deny your mutual identity with the body you deny your identity in Christ. To reject the community of the body is to reject Christ. I know this is strong language, but Paul’s language is strong. Thank God Christ is stronger.