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Catholic Apologetics

Chapter 8 -- Love, Unity and the Body of Christ



The Bible is one, long, complex love story. It describes God's love for us throughout the ages. If you condensed the entire Bible into a few verses with a common theme, it would be like these:

Lev 19:18 - Take no revenge and cherish no grudge against your fellow countrymen. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD

Matt 22:36-39 - "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to him, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Luke 10:25-27 - There was a scholar of the law who stood up to test him and said, "Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus said to him, "What is written in the law? How do you read it?" He said in reply, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself."

Rom 13:8-10 - Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, (namely) "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.

1 Pet 1:22 - Since you have purified yourselves by obedience to the truth for sincere mutual love, love one another intensely from a (pure) heart.

1 John 3:23 - And his commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us.

1 John 4:7 - Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.

1 John 4:11-12 - Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.

1 John 4:20-21 - If anyone says, "I love God," but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

These are only samples of verses found regarding loving God and one another. There is scarcely a book in the Bible that doesn't mention love.

This is the Bible at its most basic level. If we do nothing else, if we misinterpret the entire remainder of Scriptures, we must at least do this: Love the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our beings, all our strength, and all our minds, and love one another. This is clear.

The Bible explains how we are to love one another.

Gal 6:2 - Bear one another's burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Gal 6:10 - So then, while we have the opportunity, let us do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.

1 Thess 5:11 - Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do.

Rom 12:9-18 - Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality. Bless those who persecute (you), bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all. If possible, on your part, live at peace with all.

1 Tim 2:1-4 - First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity. This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.

Gal 5:13-15 - For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love. For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." But if you go on biting and devouring one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.

And note, Paul says if we bite and devour one another, we may consume one another.

Heb 10:24-25 - We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works. We should not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one another, and this all the more as you see the day drawing near.

We must rouse one another to love. We must encourage one another. Paul says, the Holy Spirit says, the Word of God says we must not stay away from the assembly of the Body of Christ (we must go to church). God wants us to interact. He wants us to fellowship.

Then there is Paul's exhortation on love:

1 Cor 13:1-13 - If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing. For we know partially and we prophesy partially, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.

When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things. At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

This is a great summary of how to love one another.

Again, this is only a sampling of the many verses instructing us how to love.


1 Pet 3:8 - Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, compassionate, humble.

Peter repeats we must love one another. He also mentions we must be of one mind. This is a call for unity.

John 10:14-16 - I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd.

Jesus doesn't say there will be several flocks or several shepherds. Note, too, that Jesus states He has other sheep that do not belong to this fold, and He must lead them also. Jesus reaches out to everyone, even those who do not belong to His fold.

Phil 2:1-2 - If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.

Paul says if anything he taught was true, at least we are to be of the same mind, thinking one thing.

Eph 4:1-6 - I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Paul emphasizes "one" in this passage. He urges us to live with one another (not alone), to love one another, to preserve unity of one body and one Spirit. And he says we are called to one hope, one faith, one baptism. He is calling us to unity.

John 13:34-35 - I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

Jesus said all will know we are His disciples by the love we have for one another. We must love one another so the world may know we are His disciples. This is a show of unity to the world.

John 17:11 - And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are.

Jesus prayed to the Father that His disciples will be one just as He and the Father are one. He and the Father are perfectly one. Jesus went on to say

John 17:20-23 - "I pray not only for them [the apostles], but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.

He prays for not just the apostles, but for all who believe in Him through their word, for all of us. This is a further call for unity.

The Body of Christ

1 Cor 12:12-27 - As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit.

Now the body is not a single part, but many. If a foot should say, "Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body," it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. Or if an ear should say, "Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body," it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended.

If they were all one part, where would the body be? But as it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I do not need you," nor again the head to the feet, "I do not need you." Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, whereas our more presentable parts do not need this. But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another.

If (one) part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy. Now you are Christ's body, and individually parts of it.

This is Paul's great discourse on the Body of Christ. In these passages, he describes what the Body is, why it is important, what makes up the members of the Body and how they relate.

The Body of Christ has many parts, but it is still one Body. God made all parts important so there may be no division in the Body. Did you catch that? The Word of God says there is to be no division in the Body of Christ.

Paul says we are all Christ's body, and individually parts of it. We were baptized into one Body. All Christians who were baptized are members of the Body of Christ.

And what greater expression of unity-if one part suffers, all suffer; if one part is honored, all are honored. The Body of Christ is the culmination of love and unity.

1 Pet 4:8-10 - Above all, let your love for one another be intense, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God's varied grace.

The Word of God declares we must use our God-given gifts to serve one another. Separating ourselves into groups (denominations), with the individual gifts God gave us, we can come to some understanding of the truth, however, we fail to share our gifts with others and we do not accept God's gifts for us through others.

God gave each of us gifts that when shared with the entire Body of Christ make a complete and perfect unit. Failing to share your gifts with others denies both sides the opportunity to experience the fullness of God's grace.

Col 1:15-18 - He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For in him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things were created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church.

Col 1:24 - Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.

Eph 1:22-23 - And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.

Paul tells the Colossians and Ephesians the Body of Christ is the Church.

1 Cor 10:17 - Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.

We can not escape the unity factor. We are one body. We are intimately interconnected.

Rom 12:4-5 - For as in one body we have many parts, and all the parts do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another.

The Holy Spirit brings this point home with repetition. Scriptures state over and over again we are one body. We don't have a choice in this. We can not say "you go your way and I'll go mine", because Scripture says we are one.

Eph 4:15-16 - Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, with the proper functioning of each part, brings about the body's growth and builds itself up in love.

The Word of God states we must grow in every way into Christ. We must function properly. We must do our part. The entire rest of the Body depends on each part. Without each of us doing our part, the Body will not grow.

Parting Comments

No man is an island. God did not want us to all go in different directions and rely solely on our own devices. Christ wanted His Body to be one, even as He and God are one. He wanted there to be a visible unity, so the world could see that Christians are one. Christ wanted us to fellowship with one another, rely on one another, confess our sins to one another. He did not want us to become hermits, away from the rest of His children, reading the Bible by ourselves, and deciding for ourselves what is truth.

We all depend on each other to uplift the Body of Christ. Until we love one another, show the world our unity, and grow into Him, we can not grow.

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