It is easy to miss the radical nature of Christian membership, particularly if we approach it from a modern, individualistic point of view. Membership is here reduced to one’s voluntary and occasional participation in a group (as when I say I am a “member” of a club or national organization). The Pauline understanding of membership, much like the Johannine depiction of Jesus as the vine onto which his disciples are grafted, is much more organic and vital. If each person is joined to another like a limb is joined to a torso, then there is nothing voluntary or occasional about the relationship. For the limb to flourish it must draw life from the whole body. To be cut off from the larger body, even momentarily, is to precipitate the member’s death. Joined together, all the members of the body share a common life.
Now where’s that Fall ’53 Sears Catalog?