Tags

, , ,

 

The Body of Christ

And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”  Ephesians 1:22-23

but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,” Eph 4:15

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” Col. 1:17-19

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;” Colossians 2:9-10

Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.” Colossians 2:18-19

The headship of Christ is not something you hear or read about very often.  Why?  I believe it’s because we really don’t understand what it means.  Obviously, why would you talk or write about something that you yourself don’t understand?

The Abuses

In my experience in the institutional church the only time I heard about the “headship” of Christ was when the preacher was referring to authority structures in the church.  Usually, they would be referring to some kind of hierarchical authority structure such as the clergy/laity system.  You would be instructed to submit to your pastor or elders as unto the Lord.  These people were the ones who would “run” the church.  Sometimes there would also be some kind of trans-local authority that you would need to submit to such as traveling “apostles” or “prophets”.  And then at very rare times you may hear about the headship of Christ referring to the authority of Christ over your life as a member of his body.  That was about it.

This post is an attempt to correct some of those ideas and add to our understanding of the fullness of Christ in reference to his headship.

The Meaning of “Head” in the New Testament

First of all, we need to understand the meaning of the word “head” in the Greek language.  This is no simple task and I am definitely no Greek scholar!  There is much controversy surrounding the original meaning of the Greek word: kephale (head).  Some say that it strictly means (authority, or person in command) and others say that it means “life source“.  I believe that it means BOTH!  And I think you will clearly see that as I bring out the context in a few of the passages I cited above.  There are a few important aspects of Christ and his Church that I would like to bring out of these passages.

Life Source

but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,” Eph 4:15

Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.” Colossians 2:18-19

These passages clearly bring out the aspect that Christ, as the Head supplies the body with his Life.  First, we see in the Ephesian passage that we (the body) are to grow up into the head (Christ).  This obviously speaks of him as our Life Source.  We grow (by his life) into him.  Secondly, in the Colossian passage we see that the entire body is supplied and held together and grows with a growth (life) that comes from God.  Therefore, we can see that this word “head” clearly means life-source by the context of these passages (and others).

Authority

He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” Col. 1:17-19

The idea of before, beginning, firstborn, and first permeates this passage.  The head comes before the body.  He is the head because he is first.  The other aspect is the idea of all things.  He is before all things; all things hold together in Him; He will come to have the first place in everything (all things).  He is the head because he is the “all things” of God!  He comes first because He is the Beginning!

He is definitely Large and in Charge!

Both Life Source and Authority

And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Eph. 1:22-23

Here we see both the authority of Christ AND the life flow (or source) of Christ.  Everything is under his feet (in subjection) which speaks of his absolute authority.  But that is to the church, his body, which is his fullness.  Christ filling all things with his fullness speak of the flow of his life source into the church.  He is definitely Lord of lords and King of kings.  Make no mistake about that.  But his authority can only be actuated by him being the Life Supply of the church.  Both work together!  We cannot have the King of kings unless we have the Vine!  We cannot have the Lord of lords unless we have the flow of Christ’s life throughout the Body.

The Most Beautiful Picture of Christ as Our Life Supply:

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, Coming down upon the beard, Even Aaron’s beard, Coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon Coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing–life forever.” Psalms 133:1-3

Wow! God, the Father’s life flows down (via the Spirit) from the Head (Christ) to every member of the Body (the Church).  Is this a picture of Life Source or what?

Practically Speaking

Okay, so this is all great and wonderful.  Jesus Christ is the Head of his Body, the church.  This means that he is both the Life-Source of the Body as well as the Lord (King) of his kingdom.  Both of these truths are wrapped up in the fact that he is the Head of the church.  I think that most Christians would agree with these statements.  However, here comes the clincher:

How does his headship play out practically within the life of the Body?

One thing is for sure; he does not express his headship through top-to-bottom or chain-of-command style leadership.  There is no one human person who leads or directs his church.

“But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.
(Matthew 20:25-28)

What Jesus was saying here is that his church would not function the way that those in the world system function.  That is, with chain-of-command top down authority.  His kingdom would function in a totally different way.  And that way is that they would become the lowest, the least, and the servants of all.  This message from our Lord came about because the mother of the sons of Zebedee (James and John) wanted to know if her sons could be given the right hand and left hand place next to the king.  He told that she had no idea what she was asking.  This was her only concept of authority.  It’s a chain-of-command top to bottom system.  But this is not how the kingdom of God would function at all!

All of the Members Seeking the Mind of the Head

Paul said that “we have the mind of Christ” (1Cor.2:16).  Notice that he didn’t say “I have the mind of Christ”.  Having the mind of Christ is a WE thing!  We all together as the Body have the mind of Christ.  Did you know that the human brain sends a message to the whole body when it makes a decision?  Actually, its more accurate to say that the whole body has a part to play whenever the brain activates something.

In organic churches, we take the Headship of Christ very seriously.  We hold it in very high esteem by the practice of the whole body seeking the Head for his direction and decisions.  This is a very long and arduous task, believe me!  In fact, you may be asking how is this even possible?  Well, it’s actually very simple to explain but not simple to do.  The brothers and sisters in the church get together for a specific purpose of making decisions and planning.  If the church is healthy then the members of the body will have already been seeking the mind of Christ about the matters to be discussed ahead of time and will come to the gathering with a sense in their spirits of what the Lord is saying.  They will already have spent time in fellowship and prayer with the Lord about the matters to be discussed.  Sometimes these practically meetings can last a long time and sometimes not.  But they do not move ahead until the body agrees on what the Lord wants.

Is this difficult?  You bet!  Is there a battlefield happening?  Absolutely.  Why?  Because there is a whole realm of creatures who are resisting and even battling against the Lord Jesus having his full headship in his church!

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority;” (Colossians 2:9-10)

We see the church seeking the mind of Christ together in Jerusalem concerning the decision to not place any additional burdens on the new believers who were Gentiles.  And the statement is made that:

Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas–Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren,”  (Acts 15:22)

And in another place:

For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials:” (Acts 15:28)

So there you have it!  Those who have itinerant ministries, the more mature saints (elders), the whole church, and the Holy Spirit all agreeing together on the mind of Christ!  That’s how decisions were made under the headship of Jesus Christ.  His mind was discovered in the midst of believers who had humbled themselves to the Lord and submitted themselves to one another (Eph. 5:21) under his direct Lordship and Headship.  Those who sought out his indwelling, eternal, uncreated, divine Life so that he would fully be expressed on the earth again!

Is this difficult?  NO!!!  It’s actually IMPOSSIBLE!!!  Only by God’s grace and in his Spirit and Life can this happen.  Will there still be problems in the church?  Absolutely!  Just read the New Testament letters!  I have come to the conclusion that problems in the churches are normal.  As long as they are the right kind of problems.  Notice with me that in the N.T. the problems are all people problems.  One guy was committing incest.  Another had problems getting along.  Some were dividing up over their favorite workers.  Some were following erroneous teachings.  But none of these problems were institutional in nature!  They were never fighting over who the next “pastor” was going to be.  There were no controversies over how much money to spend on the new building project.

But the kinds of problems an organic church will have are totally different.  One of them is laziness and atrophy.  The church may (at times) stop seeking the Lord together to find his mind for the seasons, decisions, and plans of the life of the church.  When this happens the headship of Christ is being circumvented.  Usually, those issues that need to be address won’t magically disappear and they will rear their ugly heads at the most inopportune times!

But when you have a bunch of crazy people who are simple enough to actually believe that Jesus Christ can in reality be the spiritual and practical Head over his church then all hell will break loose!

You may be asking: How in the world can this happen in reality?  I mean how can a group of believers get together and really be able to discern the mind of Christ in oneness?  How can this happen without a human leader (or group of leaders) running the show?

My answer would be to take a look at nature.  God has wonderfully built into creation this principle of corporate oneness under the headship of Christ.  Did you know that many species of animals and insects migrate to completely different areas of the world?  They all gather at the same time and at the same location!  Some travel thousands of miles and even to a different hemisphere!  How is this possible?  It’s something called “instinct“.  It’s actually built into their DNA by God himself.  Guess what?  God has also built into the spiritual DNA of his Church the instinct to gather.  Not only to gather but to express his Son and live by his Life-Source.

It’s there in your spirit, the deepest part of you.

It’s so that you will know him intimately and deeply.

It’s so that you will live by his life.

It’s so that you will live together with his people and display his kingdom!

This is our calling saints.

There is no compromise on this matter at all.

 

For more information on the headship of Christ:

Building Up the Body: One Man or One Another?

The Clergy/Laity Distinction: A Help or Hindrance?

Kephale (Head) by Laurie Fasullo

The Gathering Swarms