What does it mean it mean for the Church to be the Body of Christ? Dietrich Bonhoeffer answers this thought-provoking question in chapter, titled “The Visible Community,” in his The Cost of Discipleship.
It is their baptism into the Body of Christ which assures all Christians of their full share in the life of Christ and the Church. It is wrong, and contrary to the New Testament, to limit the gift of baptism to participation in the sermon and the Lord’s Supper, i.e. to participation in the means of grace, or to the right to hold office or perform in ministry in the Church. On the contrary, baptism confers the privilege of participation in all the activities of the Body of Christ in every department of life. To allow a baptized brother to take part in the worship of the Church, but to refuse to have anything to do with him in everyday life, is to subject him to abuse and contempt. If we grant the baptized brother the right to the gifts of salvation, but refuse him the gifts necessary to earthly life or knowingly leave him in material need and distress, we are holding up the gifts of salvation to ridicule and behaving as liars. If the Holy Ghost has spoken and we listen instead to the call of blood and nature, or to our personal sympathies or antipathies, we are profaning the sacrament. when a man is baptized into the Body of Christ not only is his personal status as regards salvation changed, but also his relationship with daily life. (256)
In the U.S. Church, are we ministering to whole persons as Jesus did, or are we “behaving as liars?”