We are Members of one Another

Lloyd Gardner
4 min readApr 28, 2023

Lloyd Gardner

April 28, 2023

Photo by James Lee on Unsplash

The world wants diversity. God wants unity. The word diversity is made up of the adjective “diverse.” Diverse, according to Miriam-Webster means “composed of distinct or unlike elements or qualities.” To remain diverse, we must continually emphasize our differences and ignore how we are the same and head out on our own. Biblical unity includes the idea of diversity but sees a way of coming together in real unity led by the Holy Spirit.

Paul says something amazing in the book of Romans: “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another” (12:4, 5; NKJV). The apostle recognizes our diversity saying that the body of Christ has “many members” with many different functions. He spends much of this chapter clearly showing that different giftings granted to each of us give us diverse ways to express the will of God. We are not little robots that march in manmade unison but are children of God each of us having a special and unique place in Christ.

But then Paul says something that is even more remarkable. He wrote that we are all individually “members of one another.” The word “member” simply means a part of something. There is a whole and many parts make up the whole. Amazingly Paul is telling us that we are not only parts of the body of Christ but are parts of one another. If you’re like me your head is now spinning as you try to make sense of this. How can we be parts of one another and remain diverse in our uniqueness before God? In building a house the foundation can’t be part of the roof. Or can it?

This mystery is understood in the light of the word “fellowship.” The Greek word is koinonia which means sharing something in common. Christ, in the Holy Spirit, has made it possible for us to share Him with one another. In this way Christ flows throughout the body of Christ making it possible for us to be part of one another. The pinky on my hand shares the same life of Christ that my heart possesses. Each part of the body gains its life from the flowing of Christ between the parts.

Unity is accomplished in the spirit not in the soul or flesh. Your soul is your personal mind, emotion, will — the part of you that makes you unique in all of God’s creation. Our soul must be transformed by God’s Spirit before it is capable of anything approaching unity (Ps 19:7; 23:3; Job 33:30; 1 Cor 15:45). Churches have tried to have unity based on the soul which merely results in exterior, human unity that impresses no one.

In Ephesians 4:1–3 Paul tells us the source of unity in the body of Christ:

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

The apostle addresses the Ephesians exhorting them in their walk and encouraging them to “preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” We who are in Christ possess a human spirit filled with the Holy Spirit. Notice this is a unity that believers already possess that must be preserved or guarded so that the bond of peace holds us together. We have this unity because we all possess the Holy Spirit in our spirit that encourages unity in the body.

But there is a deeper unity mentioned later in that passage in Ephesians 4:12, 13: “. . . to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” This is a unity that we will grow into as we mature in Christ. We will get to know Christ more deeply and more fully as a body expressing “the fullness of Christ.”

This noticeable, real unity is unfortunately lacking in the body of Christ today because we are missing “the building up of the body of Christ” which develops in the midst of genuine fellowship (mutual sharing of Christ). Meanwhile, we continue church life according to traditions that are failing to help us mature.

In Christ we are destined to reach a place of “unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God” (v 13). It baffles me that we do not take Paul at his word when he says that it is possible to “attain to” this unity of the faith. We should all be asking, “If this is true, why do we not have unity in the church?”

Could this be because we cultivate diversity while not even believing that genuine unity is possible? So many of my brothers and sisters tell me that such unity will never be reached in this life and is being saved for the kingdom age. If that is so, then Jesus was mistaken when He prayed for the church of this age that “. . . they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:21).

Jesus believed it. Paul believed it. Maybe it’s time for all of us to put aside our emphasis on diversity and believe that Christ will produce His oneness in us.

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Lloyd Gardner

I write to answer the worldwide move to diminish the influence of God. I write from outside the camp of organized religion to call people to come follow Christ.