In one sense, the “body of Christ” speaks of the actual physical element that was offered as a sacrifice to fulfill the Old Testament’s requirements; Christ’s historical body, killed on His cross, through which we have been made acceptable to a holy God (Heb. 10:10). Healing from the distorted image of God – the fallen-ness of humanity – comes when we have died with Christ through the (actual physical, historical) “body of Christ” and are united with the (alive, now!) resurrected Christ so as to be the real image of God to a hurting world (Rom. 7:4).
In another sense, the “body of Christ” is a sign and symbol of the actual and physical element; a sacrament of the church, expressed in the bread of The Lord’s Table – The Eucharist (The Thanksgiving) – otherwise known as, Communion. Paul refers to this as a “sharing together” in the loaf of bread we break – the “body of Christ” (1Cor. 10:16) – broken for and by us.
And yet, there is another sense to the “body of Christ,” not so much a third sense as it is a syncretism of the first two. The Church, not a building but a people, called and equipped from across the earth to be the expression of Christ on earth, is the actual physical “Body of Christ” (Rom. 12:5; 1Cor. 12:12, 27; Eph. 3:6; 4:12; 5:23; Col. 1:24; 3:15). As expressed at the Communion Table, the Church is visible and invisible, spanning all human history, inclusive of all cultures and ethnicities, throughout all the earth. This is a declarative act, proclaiming the death of Christ until He comes again; re-membering (bringing together again) broken humanity with His broken body. “The ‘body of Christ’ broken for you” is a calling of Christ to the Cross of Christ to be the “Body of Christ” in the earth.
The Body of Christ; gathered around Christ and gifted by the Spirit of God in the world. The church doesn’t have a mission the church IS the mission of God in humanity. The mission of God in God’s chosen people is a story of people living in and out of the community of the Spirit. The Body of Christ is to be a sign and symbol, and yet an actual physical, historical reality, of God’s love in Jesus Christ. Though we haven’t fully realized the truth of the sentiment yet, The Body of Christ is the reality that we are to be one, holy, apostolic, universal expression of the One God in three persons; we are the beauty of invisible unity (God) clearly visible, in the world but other than the world system, a consistent constancy, always, everywhere, and at all times.