Summary: When phrases like "At my church..." or "I was at her church and..." remain unchallenged, they fill our sub-consciences and begin to subtly affect our attitude about the church.
“Cross Currents: It’s Our Church”
“At our church…” “Well my church…” “I was at Swindoll’s church and…” “She was saying that at her church…” Familiar phrases – ones we’ve both heard and spoken. We know what the phrases mean –the reference is to a church to which someone belongs. Yet the longer we allow the language of the phrases to remain unchallenged, the more they fill our sub-consciences and begin to subtly affect our attitude about the church. We begin to think and act like it really is our church. Obviously ours is not the first generation to struggle with this. Paul dealt with it in the early church as well.
So as Paul is pointing to the preeminence of Christ, he includes one final declaration. (18) - “And he is the head of the body, the church.” Jesus is in charge of, the ruler over the church’s life. Jesus is the HEAD OF THE BODY. He is Lord of the Church; He has full authority over her. The Church is an organization of which Jesus is the Head. He is her Head not only because God gave Him authority but because it is also THE POSITION HE HAS EARNED. In his letter to the Ephesian Paul wrote (2:19-22 GNT) “So then, you Gentiles are not foreigners or strangers any longer; you are now citizens together with God's people and members of the family of God. You, too, are built upon the foundation laid by the apostles and prophets, the cornerstone being Christ Jesus himself. He is the one who holds the whole building together and makes it grow into a sacred temple dedicated to the Lord. In union with him you too are being built together with all the others into a place where God lives through his Spirit.” Paul taught that this was made possible because of the price Jesus paid for the Church (Eph.5:23-25) “Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior…Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…” Jesus, on the cross, paid the purchase price for the Church. As much as we love Hope Church we must never forget, it is not our church – Hope is His Church because He has earned the right to be our Head. It’s similar to Mike Illitch – owner of Lil’ Caesars but more importantly of our beloved Detroit Red Wings and Tigers. He bought and owns the teams. No deal is complete, no contract is offered – especially the big ones – no trade is made without his approval. Unfair? Not at all – he paid the price – he owns them. They are his teams. So Jesus has the right to call the shots for His Church.
Note, too, that since Jesus is the Head of the Church, the Church is THE PLACE TO BELONG. Because the Church is the Body of Christ, to be ‘in Christ’ is to be in the Church. “The picture of an individual Christian alone with God is alien to the New Testament.” (i) PEOPLE CANNOT BE FULLY IN CHRIST UNLESS THEY HAVE FULLY JOINED, AND ARE FAITHFULLY PARTICIPATING IN THE CHURCH. Martin Luther went so far as to say “He who wants to find Christ must first find the Church.” (ii) Someone has cleverly but accurately put it this way: Question: Can I be a Christian without joining the church?Answer: Yes, it is possible. It is something like being: A student who will not go to school. A soldier who will not join an army. A citizen who does not pay taxes or vote. A salesman with no customers. An explorer with no base camp. A seaman on a ship without a crew. A businessman on a deserted island. An author without readers. A tuba player without an orchestra. A parent without a family. A football player without a team. A politician who is a hermit. A scientist who does not share his findings. A bee without a hive. (iii)
At the baptism of infants we declare that the child is “...received into the visible membership of the holy Christian Church…” Then when that child, at whatever age, professes Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, he or she also commits to being an active part of the Body of Christ. That’s why the Reformed Church links profession of faith with becoming a full, active member of a particular church. A profession of faith is not complete until or unless a person enters actively into the life of Christ’s Church.
Paul stresses also that since Christ is Head of the Church, THERE IS A PRINCIPLE TO RECOGNIZE. And while a whole sermon could be preached on this thought, suffice it to say that the church is not a democracy – it is a body that gets her marching orders from her Head, Jesus Christ. Therefore UNITY IS FOUND ONLY IN SUBMISSION TO JESUS CHRIST. In fact, where there is little submission to Christ by church members, there is little unity; where the Lordship of Christ is not honored, there is little power. In all we do, we must be in submission - this is Christ’s church, not ours. Whenever we’re more concerned with the type of music, or the style of communion, or the structure of Consistory, or the banners on the wall, or the order of worship, or the process of getting things done, or with our own way and preferences than we are with submission to Christ - we forfeit and fracture our unity. Only when each of us, as members of a particular church, make the transition from ‘Christ and His Church for me’ to ‘me for Christ and His Church’ will we have true, biblical unity. Unity comes only through submission to the supreme Head, Jesus Christ.