The word “belonging” has a great deal of significance, especially for Christians. We readily recognize that we belong to Christ due to the transaction in which he purchased us and filled us with his Spirit, as Paul reminded the Corinthian believers. “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price (1 Cor. 6:19-20).” Since we were redeemed, not with corruptible things “but with the precious blood of Christ, (1 Pet. 1:19)” we are not free to live for ourselves. In the immediate context of 1 Cor. 6, this means that we are to flee all forms of unrighteousness, because we are no longer “fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners (v.9-10).” We have been made righteous and holy by Christ and in Christ.
But I am afraid that we often ignore the other sense in which we, as Christians, belong to someone other than ourselves. In Romans 12 Paul again emphasizes the fact that every believer rightfully belongs to Christ, and in recognition of this fact we ought to freely offer our own bodies as living sacrifices to the Savior (v.1-2). He goes on to say that just as “we have many members in one body, but all members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another (v.4-5).” In other words, every Christian belongs to the other believers in the body of Christ, and just as our belonging to Christ comes with the expectation of righteous living, so our belonging to the body of Christ comes with expectations.
What are these expectations? Paul explains in the verses that follow. We are to use our various gifts for the benefit of one another (v.6-8), loving one another sincerely, seeking truth and righteousness (v.9). We must treat one another with generous affection and honor (v.10), serving the Lord with zeal rather than laziness (v.11), and sharing with one another the ups and downs of life, praying faithfully for one another (v.12). And we must share our resources to benefit those in need (v.13), without regard for the relative status of our brothers and sisters in Christ (v.15-16). When conflict arises, we are to speak words of kindness rather than hostility (v.14), seeking peace rather than vengeance (v.17-19), and following the Lord’s command to “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Matt. 5:44).”
Now this might seem like an impossible task, and it would be if not for the fact that God has given us his Spirit by which we are included in his body (1 Cor. 12:13), and he has given us a local body of believers with whom we are to exercise these disciplines. Is it easy to always consider the good of others before ourselves? To love and honor them as brothers and sisters? To share with them faithfully? To seek peace instead of conflict? No, of course not. But we belong to them. We are not free to please ourselves, but to please our Savior by serving others with diligence and commitment. How well are you doing?