Today begins a two-part series on Christ as the head and the church as the body.
The Scriptures use many many metaphors. Believers are called sheep, Peter is the rock, the disciples become fishers of men, marriage is a metaphor for Christ and the church, those who hear the gospel are compared to differing kinds of soils, Jesus is the good shepherd, etc. Today and tomorrow I want to look at a metaphor that Paul employs in his epistle to the Colossians; the metaphor of Christ as head and the church as body.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. (Colossians 1:15-18NIV)
What does it mean that Christ is the head of his church? We'll look today at the authority and primacy of the head in the body. Tomorrow will be more application of the principles we look at today.
The head serves to foster the growth and life of the body. Christ grows his church (contrary to the theories of many from the 90's) and it is by his initiative and his will that his body grows and increases in life. Jesus says to Peter, "On this rock I will build my church." (Matthew 16:18)
The head also controls the actions body and is in authority over it. When the body acts independent of the commands of the head we consider that to be a disease. Perhaps Parkinson's is the best example of this. The body works best when it submits to and is coordinated by its head. So too with Christ and the church. The church works best, or perhaps only truly works, when it is submitting to Christ. Our ever action should be informed and led by Christ through his word and Spirit. All that we do should be held against the command he has given us to make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28)
The head also sustains the life that is within the body. While the beating of a heart, the secretion of essential horomones, and the regeneration of cells is not a voluntary endeavor we know that the head is responsible to regulating all such actions. So too, once again, with the church. The church ceases to be the church when Christ no longer supports her. If Jesus were to remove himself from the church the church would die. It is he who gives her life, breath, and a beating heart. Without Christ we are nothing.