The Body of Christ and Love

The following is an excerpt from Retired and Inspired : Making the Most of Our Latter Years by Wendy Billington.

As Christians we are Christ’s body; each of us is precious to him and necessary for his work here on earth. That is why we need to strive towards wholeness so that we can offer our best for him and serve him well as a member of his body.

Teresa of Avila, the 16th-century Carmelite nun, mystic and theologian, wrote these famous words directly referring to and reminding us of Paul’s teaching on the body of Christ from 1 Corinthians 12:

Christ has no body now but yours.

No hands, no feet on earth but yours.

Yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on this world.

Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body.

Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Teresa of Avila

What a vivid analogy this is: the church, the body of Christ, is like and works as a human body. Each of us is a member and of equal worth but with a different part to play, essential to creating a harmonious whole. Paul goes on in his teaching to say to the Corinthians “Those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” (1 Corinthians 12:22).

Whoever we are and whatever gifts we have, we remain indispensable to God and his people. God has called us to love him first; to do this we are to live close to him. God has called us to love our neighbours. The love that God requires is not a passionate physical love nor the love we feel for others: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18). This is a love not just of the heart but also of the mind and the will. It keeps on loving even when things aren’t going the way we would like. It is a resolve to put the welfare of others above our own with both actions and words.

The great calling of the church is for it to be family, nurtured through Christ’s love with that same love flowing by the Holy Spirit to its members – the body of Christ. That means that our own personal relationship with God needs to play a key role, but at the same time we must remember that this relationship isn’t just for our own benefit. We have been placed into the body of Christ alongside our fellow Christians, individually and collectively to witness God’s love to the wider world. ‘See how they love one another’ is the mark of a truly spiritual church.

What does it mean that Jesus and believers are living stones?


What does it mean that Jesus and believers are living stones in 1 Peter 2:4-5?


The term living stones in 1 Peter 2:5 is used as a metaphor to illustrate the secure and intimate relationship believers have with Jesus, who is described in the previous verse as the “living Stone” (1 Peter 2:4). Together, these two verses picture how Christ and His followers are joined by God Himself: “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to Him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:4–5).

The foundation of God’s building is His Son, Jesus Christ, the “living Stone.” The “living stones,” in turn, are believers who come to Jesus and place their lives upon this foundation. The living Stone is “precious” to those who believe (1 Peter 2:7), but some men reject the living Stone in order to build their lives their own way, not God’s way (see Psalm 118:22 and Luke 6:46–49). Unbelievers cast this living Stone aside, not caring that Jesus is the only true foundation upon which they can build securely (1 Corinthians 3:11).

In a metaphor much like that of the living Stone, Jesus is described as the chief cornerstone in Ephesians 2:19–22. Peter references Jesus as the cornerstone in Acts 4:11–12, stating that “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” God accepts no one who refuses to become a part of His building. And God is just like all builders—He has a foundation upon which all workers must build (Matthew 7:24–27).

Believers, then, are the “living stones” of the church that Jesus promised to build (Matthew 16:18). As living stones, we have new life in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17). As integral parts of the building of God, we have security in Christ (John 6:37). As the Master Builder, God places His living stones just where He wants us to be (1 Corinthians 12:18). As living stones, we are connected to one another in the body of Christ (Romans 12:5). Our Lord, the foundation Stone, is alive forevermore and will never crumble. He will support us eternally.

Peter goes on to describe the function of the living stones: to “declare the praises” of Him who called us out of the darkness of sin into the light of life and glory (1 Peter 2:9). This is the “job description” of a living stone: a speaker of praise, a declarer of truth and love and light. The spiritual house God is building is designed for His glory, and we, the living stones, glorify the Lord in all we do (1 Corinthians 10:31).