God’s Superorganism–The Church
A few years ago I set out on my dream of becoming a beekeeper. I remember that windy day when a package of 3,000 bees arrived. I was terrified as I opened the package and began shaking the bees out of their container and into the hive box. Over time my fear waned and was replaced by sheer awe. I marveled at how they built their wax comb, how the queen laid thousands of eggs each day, and how they all, every single of them, worked together for the survival of the whole. A colony of bees is called a superorganism – an organized society that functions as an organic whole. Each individual bee lives and works as an individual that contributes to the life of the whole colony. The queen bee sends chemical signals leading and directing the colony in ways that she sees fit. The colony cannot exist without the individual members doing their part.
In a similar manner, the church, is also a superorganism. Members of the body (i.e. the church) work together in cooperation following the signals and commands of its head, Jesus Christ. Paul teaches about this unique nature of the church in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27. Verse 12 proclaims, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” In this text Paul is not comparing the church to a bee colony, his illustrative comparison is that of a man. But it’s a spiritual picture of Christ, so what you need to see in the image is a spiritual man made up of two parts. The first part is a head, this represents Christ. The second part of the illustration is a body, this represents the church. Further down in the text we read this in verse 27, “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” The church is the body and Christ is its head, this is the spiritual illustration Paul is depicting to help the Corinthians understand the value and worth of each member of the body.
So many lessons can be brought out from this text, not least of which is how the body is submissive to the head, but we are focusing on the incredibly collaborative nature of the church. Do you see how arrogant and condescending attitudes have no place? Do you understand that seemingly lesser parts are vital to the health and success of the whole? This is why the New Testament is so full of verses instructing Christians on how to treat one another. When Christians genuinely love and serve one another, sacrifice for one another, forgive one another, work for unity with one another, and bear burdens together, all of this shows that we are living as the collaborative “organism” that God designed the church to be.
Just as each bee has an individual role to perform in the colony, each Christian has an important function in the body of Christ. And just as the bee colony can flourish or fail based on the working of the individual bees, so the church can thrive or suffer due to individual Christians. When I work my bees and see how they seamlessly work as one, I am reminded of the beautiful design of the nature of the church. May we function together as purposed by God in His superorganism, the church.
Clayton Johnson is the minister and evangelist for the Carbon Valley Church of Christ. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. God Bless.