Summary: As Christians, we have embarked upon a new way of life. To guide us along this path, we have been given certain principles for living. These principles have been illustrated for us in the Scriptures with graphic pictures.
Ephesians: Our Identity in Christ~Part 17
. . . we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:15b-16)
We know that the church is not a building. By our very surroundings today, we should be reminded of that central truth. But the church is not simply people either. A room full of people may just be a crowd. If the room is full of Christian people, it may simply be a Christian crowd, it may not be a church.
The church is certainly not a building, and it is more than people. The church is the Body of Christ. As such, it is a living organism, composed of Christ and His people, organized for His work upon this earth. This image of a living body is one which richly reflects the dynamic of how the church ought to function. It is an image we need to understand if we are to fully appreciate not only how the church ought to function, but also how we are to function in the church.
We need to see that there are implications of the Body of Christ. Not everyone understands the responsibilities which come with being a member of the Body. We need to see this truth concerning the church, and because of that never live their lives from that perspective.
We are told in 1 Corinthians 11:29 that it is possible to fail to “discern” the Lord's Body. It is found in a section concerning the Lord's Supper. There Paul is dealing with disharmony in the church as it pertained to celebrating the Lord's Supper. Apparently, somewhere “doing their own thing” in this community meal and failing to recognize that they were part of a larger fellowship of believers. They were failing to take the time to get right with God and with one another and thus were failing to recognize the Body of Christ. They were failing to live by the principle of the Body of Christ.
As Christians, we have embarked upon a new way of life. To guide us along this path, we have been given certain principles for living. These principles have been illustrated for us in the Scriptures with graphic pictures. For instance, the Cross of Christ is not only a historical event, it is a way of life. On the Cross of Calvary, Jesus laid down His life for us. But we are also called to take up our crosses daily. By this we understand that we are to lay down our lives daily and follow Him. This is a principle for living illustrated in the Cross. The Body of Christ is another picture. The Body of Christ is not merely a reference to the church, it is a graphic illustration of how the church is to work, and therefore how we are to live. It is a principle for living our lives. So, it is of great importance that we understand what the Body of Christ is and what Body Life is all about.
. . . we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ. (4:15b)
The Body into which we have been placed has a head. Someone is in charge. Who is it? What if some little green men in a spaceship landed in this auditorium and said, “Take me to your leader,” where would you take them? Well, for many reasons, I hope you wouldn't bring them to me. I’m not the head, the true head of the church is not the pastor, nor is it any of the people, nor will it ever be. The head of the church is Jesus Christ. He is the one who is in charge, and if it is not, then it isn’t a church. This is His church. The Body of Christ belongs to and is led by Christ!
And as the head of the Body, He is the source of its life. It is because of Christ that we are in the Body.
The Bible says “in Him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
He is the source of our life, and He is the focus of our life. That is why we are told that we are to grow up in all aspects into Him. Christ is the head of the church, the source of its life, and our chief priority in life.
The Bible reveals that Jesus Christ is to be everything for us. 1 Corinthians 1:30-31 reads, “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, that, just as it is written, ‘Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.'“