A poll released in early 2017 revealed that nearly one in five Americans define themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” Though it’s difficult to nail down what exactly that means, the phrase generally reveals a person’s subjective sense of some higher power or essence but no commitment to any tangible religious tradition or community.
To be sure, a mindless obligation to empty religious rituals does not feed the soul; and certainly the abuses of religious (and yes, “Christian”) communities warns us against blindly following any human system. However, Jesus insisted that after His resurrection and return to the Father, He would be present in the world through the church. In our time, the “body of Christ” entails Jews and Gentiles and men and women, every kind of person who has “been baptized into one body by one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13).
Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus is now alive in the world because He’s alive in His people. When believers in Christ worship on Sundays in London or Bangladesh, when they serve the marginalized in Hong Kong or Kolkata—wherever God’s people are gathering and acting in Jesus’ name—then Jesus is there (Matthew 18:20). “All of you together are Christ’s body,” Paul says, “and each of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). If we’re joined to Christ, we’re intimately joined to God’s physical presence in the world—the church.
As Teresa of Ávila puts it in her penetrating words: “Christ has no body now on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours; yours are the eyes through which to look at Christ’s compassion to the world, yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good, and yours are the hands with which he is to bless us now.”
How does the body imagery used by Paul inform your understanding of the church? How is the Holy Spirit inviting you to be Jesus’ body?
Taken from “Our Daily Journey”