The purpose of a physical body is to express the life that’s in it. It’s the same with the body of Christ. It exists so that Jesus can express His personality in a visible way.
The local body of Christ is called to gather together regularly to display God’s life through the ministry of every believer. How?
One of the normative ways in the New Testament was through open-participatory meetings where every member of the believing priesthood functioned, ministered, and expressed the living God (1 Cor. 14:26; 1 Pet. 2:5; Heb. 10:24–25).
God dwells in every Christian and can inspire any of us to share with the church something that comes from Him. In the first century, every Christian had both the right and the privilege of speaking to the community. This is the practical expression of the New Testament doctrine of the priesthood of all believers.
The purpose of the open-participatory gathering is to edify the entire church and to display, express, and reveal the Lord through the members of the body to principalities and powers in heavenly places (Eph. 3:8–11).
The Greek word for church that I’ve been using throughout this book, ekklesia, literally means “assembly.” This meshes nicely with the dominant thought in Paul’s letters that the church is Christ in corporate expression (1 Cor. 12:1–27; Eph. 1:22–23; 4:1–16).
From a human perspective, the purpose of the church meeting is mutual edification. But from God’s perspective, the purpose of the gathering is to express His glorious Son and make Him visible.
Put another way, we gather together so that the Lord Jesus can manifest Himself in His fullness. When that happens, the body is edified. Note that the only way that Christ can be properly expressed is if every member of a church freely supplies the aspect of the Lord that he or she has received. The Lord Jesus cannot be fully disclosed through only one member. He is far too rich for that (Eph. 3:8).
So if the hand doesn’t function in the gathering, Christ will not be manifested in fullness. Likewise, if the eyes fail to function, the Lord will be limited in His self-revelation.
On the other hand, when every member of a local assembly functions in the meeting, Christ is seen. He is made visible because He is assembled in our midst.
Consider the analogy of a puzzle. When each puzzle piece is properly positioned in relation to the other pieces, the puzzle is assembled. The net effect? We see the entire picture. It’s the same way with Christ and His church.
by Frank Viola author