The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: B

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David Levin wrote to the Tidings, and his letter was published as a follow-up to my article [see Lesson, One body, implications of the ]. In it he wrote:

"George wrote: 'each member BELONGS to all the others'. The word BELONGS stands alongside the idea of BELIEVES in defining the one body in Christ. Too many of us, myself included for many years, averred that the body of Christ was to be defined as 'those of a common belief system'. Only in the past several years have I come to appreciate the principle of BELONGING as equally necessary in circumscribing a worldwide body of Christ.

"The analogy of the natural body requires us to discretely demarcate our membership. None of our natural bodily members offers its services to the body on a part-time basis, nor do we tend to share body parts between two or more bodies! In the spiritual body, one cannot have part-time status, nor can one claim membership in more than one body. Our natural bodies are discrete operating organisms; likewise, the body of Christ.

"Our situation in North America today shows the need to use both belief and belonging in defining our community. We have brothers and sisters who share our belief system, yet remain outside (either completely alone or in small factions) for a variety of reasons. Some simply do not want to be part of a larger group. Some have no sense of community, thinking that their belief alone suffices to position them within the one body.

"All would become part of the one body if we used belief as the sole criteria of defining the one body, as we exclude no one from the body of Christ who shares the same belief system. But can we include those who make no commitment to belong to one body? If we did, we would have a non-discrete and vague body. We would have some who claim common belief, but would have no commitment to a single community, as they would claim freedom to join in fellowship with others who make no such commitment.

"Therefore, BELIEF alone cannot organize a community. Our factionization proves that. So many do share the same hope -- but remain apart because they have no sense of BELONGING. Many brothers and sisters lament the thought of excluding anyone of like faith, but what can we do if someone shares our faith but not our commitment to one body? If one does not commit to belonging to one body, that individual must bear his or her own conscience on the matter.

"I would like to reinforce George's thesis: to constitute a body, each member must commit to belonging to each other. This principle has wider application than just settling 'fellowship' issues. Commitment to belonging to one worldwide community undergirds all our cooperative service, mutual edification, and outreach. On these two principles -- BELIEF and BELONGING -- hang the integrity of the body of Christ."

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