Love, the Ligaments of His Body

Love, the Ligaments of His Body

Robert Wurtz II

 

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. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us (…)” (Romans 12:4–6 NKJV).

 

God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it (1 Corinthians 12:24–26 NKJV).

 

(…) not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God (Colossians 2:19 ESV).

 

But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection (Colossians 3:14).

 

I chose four passages that mirror Paul’s teachings on the body of Christ. He emphasized the body motif and the centrality of agape love everywhere he established churches. One cannot understand “Paul’s Gospel” (Romans 2:16) unless they understand his focus on love because the love of Christ expressed in the Saints is the end goal of the Gospel itself (2 Timothy 2:8, Romans 13:8-10, et al.). Being a mature Christian means that your behavior reflects the person of Jesus Christ by loving as He loved. Full stop. Nobody is “spiritual” or “godly” who isn’t loving and Christ-like in all of their ways and all aspects of life (1 John 3:10). 

 

According to Jesus, love for others is the summary of the Mosiac law (Mark 12:28–34) and expresses the lifestyle of those under the New Covenant (John 13:31–35). Loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and your neighbor as yourself is the evidence and expression of true Christianity. Without this reality, a person isn’t saved no matter their profession or position in the churches. Knowing a person by their fruit is a measure of that person’s Christ-likeness, and love is the first fruit. Without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6), and love is greater than faith (1 Corinthians 13:13).

 

Faking Love

 

Paul instructs the Saints in Romans 12:9, saying, “let love be without hypocrisy.” That is to say, don’t pretend to love people when you don’t. Why? As we will soon discover, love is the binding force holding the churches together. What do you suppose would happen if unexpectedly all the mortar holding every brick and stone together suddenly disappeared from our structures? Our entire civilization would be in a heap of ruins. Everything would come crashing down — destroying everything in its path. Buildings would implode; bridges would collapse; walls would fall over. We pay little attention to the binding force holding things together until it is gone. Paul used this concept of a “bond” or “binding force” to describe the importance of love in Colossians 3:14. 

 

Herod and Pilate were made friends and brought into temporary unity, not because they loved each other, but by placing their hands on a common enemy and destroying Him. When love is not present to maintain cohesion and unity, there must be a substitute. Herod and Pilate united in hatred for Jesus. This was their “mortar.” Love can hold all things together in unity; however, hatred will sacrifice a victim to start a relationship, mend a fence, or maintain friendships. Unbelievers like Pilate and Herod may do this, but it is an abomination for a Christian to do it. 

 

The Binding Power of Love 

 

Our passage in Colossians 3:14 begins with the phrase, “And above all these…”. “Above all” is a phrase that escalates love to the highest level of importance. The “these” that he speaks of is the list in Colossians 3:13-14. As we look at this passage, let us settle this once and for all in our minds. The subject of love is not secondary or even primary; it is at the very essence of our religion and faith. Ministers may speak on a thousand topics on any given week within the Body of Christ, but none excel past love. Some preach love and don’t live it. This ought not to be.  

 

But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection (Colossians 3:14 NKJV). 

 

The Greek word for “bond” is sundesmos and means something that binds together, such as a tendon or a ligament of the bones (TDNT VII, 856-858; CWSD, G4886). Over 900 ligaments hold the human body together, and this number doesn’t include tendons that bind muscles to bones. What a powerful illustration of the importance of love! When a person behaves in an unloving way, it’s like an injured ligament. The whole body can feel the pain or suffer the debilitation of that unloving behavior. It’s like rolling an ankle or tearing your ACL. This is the power of Paul’s illustration.    

 

Love is that binding force that brings cohesion to all things within the body. Without love, everything within the Body of Christ becomes disjointed and dissimulated. A torn ligament or a herniated area is a powerful picture of the body suffering the impact of non-love. Colossians 2:19 explains that Christ, the Head, has to be “held.” He must be given His rightful place as the Head and held there in love (See Ephesians 4:16). 

 

Every member of the body is essential and must be “held in place” by love. Paul explains this in 1 Corinthians: But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary (1 Corinthians 12:20-22). 

 

Love isn’t optional. If we stop and consider the straightforward logic of Paul’s teachings, we would realize that we are like a human body as a body of believers, and love is like the tendons and ligaments holding us all together. Every unloving action impacts the body. Some unloving and hateful acts cause injuries to the body that take months, if not decades, to heal. This is why the schism and division and quarreling we read about in 1 Corinthians mustn’t happen. 

 

Does your right hand attack your left? Is there anyone who intentionally pokes themself in the eye? Obviously, no. What do we do when we are hurt? We immediately grab or rub that area and try to comfort ourselves or relieve the pain. We never attack a hurting part of our human body. Then why would Christians, even pastors, behave callously towards one another as if they can’t feel a fellow member of the body’s pain or grief? Are we moving in the tenderheartedness that Paul spoke of in Ephesians 4:32? Without love, the body of Christ cannot function any more than our human body cannot function without tendons and ligaments. 

 

May God give us a fresh and lasting revelation of the body of Christ and how an unloving attitude or behavior can cause enormous problems to all of us. 

 

God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it (1 Corinthians 12:24–26 NKJV).

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