Summary: What does it mean to belong to the church, Jesus' physical body here on Earth?
The body of Christ. Just what does that mean to us? And why is it important? The Bible clearly teaches the body of Christ is the church. I was looking at few articles and blogs from people who say they love Jesus but hate the church. What an interesting concept. Is that possible? According to Barna Group, nearly half of all those in America who self -identify as Christian are unchurched. Those among this group that hate the church make up nearly 10% of our population. Biblically speaking, what they are really saying is “I hate Jesus,” because the church is Jesus’ body, his physical present on earth.
Colossians 1:18 (NKJV)
Colossians 1:24–29 (NKJV)
Dr. Helen Roseveare (1925-2016), a British medical doctor, has served more than twenty years in the Congo, Africa (1953-1973) with Worldwide Evangelization Crusade. For twelve and a half years she had a frenetic but generally wonderful time serving as the only doctor to an area containing more than half a million people (today probably close to 3 million). But in 1964 revolution overwhelmed the country, and she and her coworkers were thrown into five and a half months of almost unbelievable brutality and torture. On one occasion when Dr. Roseveare was on the verge of being executed, a seventeen-year-old student came to her defense and was savagely beaten as a result. He was kicked about like a football and left for dead. Dr. Roseveare was sick. For a moment she thought that God had forsaken her, even though she did not doubt his reality. But God stepped in, overwhelmed her with the sense of his own presence, and said something like this: “Twenty years ago you asked me for the privilege of being a missionary, the privilege of being identified with me. These are not your sufferings; they are my sufferings.” As the force of that hit home, the doctor said she was overcome with a great sense of privilege. Helen Roseveare’s sense of identification with Christ, of union with him, was elevated by her suffering, and she rejoiced.
In today’s passage, Paul will talk about his suffering, but this message is not about suffering, though as Christians we can expect to suffer for our faith. It is so much deeper, that once we realize the very mystery of Gospel, the mysteries of God that have been revealed to us, suffering as a Christian will be bearable and Paul said He even rejoiced in his sufferings!
Colossians 1:18 (NKJV) And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
The first phrase I want to draw attention to is: “the body, the church”
Whose body is this? That would be Jesus’ body. Jesus’ body here on earth is His church. And make no mistake, it is not our church, it is His church.
Matthew 16:18a (NKJV)
And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH
As the church belong to Jesus, He is the head. “And He is the head of the body, the church,” The Greek word use here for head in usage can also mean the source and origin as well as the leader and ruler. This is further illustrated by: “who is the beginning” not just the beginning of all things, as the previous verses illustrate, but the beginning of the resurrection: “the firstborn from the dead” Jesus was not the first to be risen from the dead. We know Jesus raised Lazarus, but Lazarus lived only to die again.
Jesus is the first to be raise from the dead, never to die again.
1 Corinthians 15:20 (NKJV) But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
And because of Jesus, we have the hope of the resurrection. And as such: “that in all things He may have the preeminence.” Jesus is first in all things, In everything we say and do, it needs to be centered on Jesus. It always and only about him. This will be illustrated a bit later. But for now, we need to grasp the fact the “Jesus is all in all.” (Col 3:11)
Philippians 2:10–11 (NKJV) that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus is first and all of creation will acknowledge that one day. The key is, who will acknowledge this now? If Jesus heads up all of creation, how much more so the church, His body acknowledge this fact. But we constantly take away from Him. It becomes our programs, our ways, our interests, and our focus is removed of the Head, which is Jesus. In verse 19 we read the very fullness of God the Father is in Him: