"In the late 1800's there were two deacons in a small Baptist church in Mayfield, KY. These two deacons didn't get along and they always opposed each other in any decision related to the church. On one particular Sunday, one deacon put up a small wooden peg in the back wall so the minister could hang up his hat. When the other deacon discovered the peg, he was outraged that he had not been consulted. People in the church took sides and eventually there was a spilt. To this day, they say you can find in Mayfield, KY the Anti-Peg Baptist Church."
I chuckled when I heard this story. I don't know whether it is a true story or not, but it does illustrate what can and does happen when there is not enough humility, gentleness, patience and loving forbearance among those who claim Christ. I still remember sitting in my Restoration History class at Harding University talking about the Thomas and Alexander Campbell when they live in Ireland. They belonged to the Old Light, Anti-Burgher, Seceder, Presbyterian Church. What a mouthful! This illustrates just how divisive the church had become. Whatever happened to just the "Church of Christ," or the "Church of our Lord?"
God's ideal for the church is that it would be the body of Christ. According to Ephesians 2, God broke down the barrier of the dividing wall and created a new unified body. The church was the "body" of Christ. That metaphor not only says something about the unity that the church is supposed to preserve, but it also says something about it's purpose.
Jesus came to earth with a human body. With a human mouth, he preached the good news. With human feet, he walked to where the people were in order to minister to them. With human eyes, he looked upon the people with compassion. With human ears, he took time to listen to people. With human hands, he touched, served, and loved others. With a human back he selflessly and obediently carried his cross. With a human heart, he demonstrated the love and compassion of God as well as his holiness. With a human body, he obediently carried out God's purposes.
Where is the body of Christ now? In a sense, we are now his body on the earth. Paul's favorite metaphor for God's people is the body of Christ. As his mouth, feet, eyes, hands, and back, we are to continue God's purposes on this earth. We have a God-given mission to strengthen each other and to take the Gospel to those who are lost. God was the head of Christ, so Christ carried out his purposes obediently (1 Cor 11:3). Christ is our head, and we too must carry out his purposes obediently.
In order to do this, we need to act and function like a body. If not, the result will be a handicapped body and best, and a paralyzed one at worst. It takes the fruit of the Spirit, things such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control in order to preserve the oneness that God has created. The final body God created is the body of Christ, and what God has joined together, let not man put asunder.