“Head bone connected to the neck bone, neck bone connected to the shoulder bone, shoulder bone connected to the back bone, back bone connected to the hip bone, hip bone connected to the thigh bone, thigh bone connected to the knee bone, knee bone connected to the shin bone…” and so on. These are some of the verses from a song entitled “Dem Bones,” a spiritual song composed by James Weldon and his brother, J. Rosamond Johnson and first recorded
by the Famous Myers Jubilee Singers in 1928. In my study of the “one another” passages in the New Testament, that song came to mind.
I was reading Ephesians 4:15-16, “but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all [aspects] into Him who is the head, [even] Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love,” (NASB) and Colossians 2:19, “and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God” (NASB). Paul was writing about the analogy of the Body of Christ, the Church, and its diverse parts all working together to produce growth. What intrigued me, was the use of the terms ‘joints’ and ‘ligaments’. In my past readings of those two texts, I glided over those two terms without questioning their function. I understood the function of each body part and their interdependence of each other, but these two terms gave me more insight into the connection between the parts of the body.
I looked up the word ‘ligament’ in the dictionary and here is what it said. A ligament is a “short band of tough flexible fibrous connective tissue which connects two bones or cartilages or holds together a joint.” A ‘joint’ is “the connection made between bones in the body which link the skeletal system into a functional whole. They are connected to allow for different degrees and types of movement.” Wow! I thought. There are joints and ligaments holding together the parts of the human body but what spiritual analogy is that in the Body of Christ? What is it that connects the parts of the Body of Christ? I know that the Head (Jesus Christ) is the authority over the Body (the Church) and the Holy Spirit is the power (the brain) enabling and leading the Body, but what in the Church connects and holds together the parts? Connection is the key word. I believe the joints and the ligaments can be described as the community of the parts. Another term would be the Greek term, ‘koinonia,’ or fellowship, or abiding. What a picture of the application of the ‘one another’ passages! There are over 20 verses in the New Testament where the term ‘one another’ is used in an exhortation to build up the Body of Christ. Here are just a few, “members of one another” (Rom. 12:5), “devoted to one another” ( Rom. 12:10a), “honor one another” (Rom. 12:10b), “be of the same mind with one another” (Rom. 15:5), “accept one another” ( Rom. 15:7), “admonish one another” (Rom. 14:14), “greet one another” (Rom. 1:16). When the parts do not properly exercise the ‘one another’ exhortations, the church will not function according to design. When the parts properly exercise the ‘one another’ exhortations, the church will be built up and function very well.
So how can a church be a healthy and vibrant church, bringing glory to the Head of the Church, as diverse individual parts working together in unity? By connecting with each other in properly exercising the ‘one another’ passages, a local church will grow into a body of believers who are mature and able to multiply and equip other believers who will then carry on the process of 2 Timothy 2:2, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (NASB).
How are you functioning as a joint and ligament? Are you properly exercising your gift by encouraging one another, by praying for one another, caring for one another, accepting one another, honoring one another, or really being connected with one another, etc? If you are not a part of a Community Group, ask yourself why not? Community Groups are where the ‘one another’ exhortations should be properly exercised. Connect with the other parts of the Body and enjoy the fellowship and growth. Remember that you are gifted by the Holy Spirit to work with the other parts of the church in order to build it up. Give Wes Williams a call and ask how you can join a Community Group so that you can be a joint and ligament.
Bill Olsen, Elder