I mentioned in this post that the Bible compares Jesus and the Church to a married couple. I noted that the points of comparison between the two are deep love and commitment (self-sacrificing love and commitment).
This isn’t the only metaphor the Bible uses to describe the relationship between Jesus and the Church. The Bible (the Apostle Paul in particular) refers to the Church as the “Body of Christ” on more than one occasion (1 Cor 12:12, 27; Rom 12:4–5). In fact, one of the most important rituals of the Christian Church is rooted in this metaphor: the eucharist.
So, what are the points of comparison between the Church and the body of Christ? The answer to this question lies in convergence of the two metaphors. That is, we can only answer the question if we understand that the Church is not only the Body of Christ, but also the Bride of Christ and the relationship between the two metaphors.
Do you remember the story of when God created Eve? God saw that it wasn’t good that Adam was alone, so (after creating all the animals), he put Adam to sleep, and took a rib from his side, and from the rib formed Eve. Then God brought Eve to Adam and Adam exclaimed, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Gen 2:23)
Genesis goes on to say that it was God’s intention for man and woman to “become one flesh.” (Gen 2:24b) At this very point we can see how the Church as both the Bride and Body of Christ comes together. For the Church to be the Bride of Christ also means that it shares the same “flesh and bones” (read “character and nature) of Jesus himself. To be husband and wife means to be one flesh.
The image that the New Testament writers give us is clear. The same way that God created Eve out of Adam, God also created the Church out of Christ. The beauty of this, however, is that the Church is created from the better, perfect man. In the same way that Jesus is set a part as the innocent, holy, and perfect one, so the Church shall be. The church is to be the very flesh and bone of Jesus–of a different nature than Adam, the fallen man.
So what is the significance of this? Primarily, that the Church is to share the nature of Jesus (not his divinity, just his moral character). This means that Christians are no longer to live under the condemnation associated with being the sons and daughters of Adam! No more sinning! We are to put to death the sin nature (Rom 6), and we are to live in the liberty of the forgiveness of sins and the regeneration of the heart in the likeness of Christ. In this way, the Church is able to be the walking, living, embodiment of Jesus in a world in need of healing.