Koinonia

The unity we have with one another in Christ as members of his Body, the Church transcends any sort of pseudo-unity that can be found in this world. It is not merely a sharing of common opinions or ideals. Instead, we are quite literally members of one another in a single Body, each member sharing fully in every aspect of the whole. An analogy for this unity in Christ is the way in which God designed the genetic constitution of our own physical bodies. Each of the tiny, seemingly insignificant cells of our bodies contains within it the DNA of our whole body. Though each cell of our body has its own proper function and purpose, each one contains the entire body within itself and is thereby unified and identified with the whole. So it is with the Body of Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote, “For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ (1 Cor 12:12). Our union with one another in Christ is therefore neither contrived nor artificial. It is an organic unity bestowed on us in our baptism that is both manifested and fulfilled in our eucharistic communion in the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus.

Each of our brothers and sisters in the Lord are thus inseparable members both of Christ and of our own selves (Rom 12:4–5). We can no more ignore, injure, or separate ourselves from any of our brethren in Christ without injury, both to Christ and to ourselves, than we can if we were to do the same to parts of our own bodies. For this reason, we know that our Lord was not merely speaking metaphorically when He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me” (Matt 25:40). This is why we confess one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. As there is only one Lord Jesus Christ, so He has only one Body. There is, therefore, one Church which is his Body. This is the great mystical ecclesiological1 truth of the Orthodox Faith in which we must take care to abide. Regardless of what our culture insists upon, we are not autonomous individuals who can live or even have a “relationship with God” on our own.


Footnotes

  1. Ecclesiology is the study of the Church, therefore ecclesiological refers to something that is true of the Church.