I am particularly interested in the metaphors and images the New Testament uses to show us exactly how the church is one. I confess I have previously paid too little attention to 1 Corinthians 10:17. “Because there is one loaf, we, who are many, are one body, for we all share the one loaf.” The church is not only one body but it is one loaf. Just as there is one body so there must be only one loaf.
Remember the context of these words – the Eucharist. The loaf is a reference to the bread, which is the body of Christ. When we share the bread we share as one people because there are not two kinds of bread, one one for this group and one for the other. We all consume the same bread which is the one body of Christ. Andrew Murray wrote: “He who partakes of the body and blood of Jesus is incorporated with His body, the church, and stands thenceforth in close relationship with all its members.” In the New Covenant, thus in the meal of the covenant, there is such a deep and wonderful union with Jesus that there is new life and new love. Thus Jesus can say, “By this everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).
Andrew Murray suggests that this thought is often forgotten at the Lord’s Table, to our great loss. He asks how often have we taken the meal without knowing or loving the brothers and sisters who partake it with us. In many cases we hardly know them at all if the truth is known. In some churches it doesn’t even seem to matter if we do. Murray adds, “Many have sought a closer connection with the Lord and not found it because they would have the Head without the body! Jesus must be loved, honored, served, and known in His members. . . . Not only must love to Him whose bread I eat be the object of my desire, promise, and prayer, but also the love to all who eat that bread along with me.”
The Message says:
Don’t we take into ourselves the body, the very life, of Christ? Because there is one loaf, our many-ness becomes one-ness—Christ doesn’t become fragmented in us. Rather, we become unified in him. We don’t reduce Christ to what we are; he raises us to what he is.
The Eucharist really does provide for us the body of Christ but could we not also see that it gives us our oneness in Him? This seems to be the very argument the apostle makes here.