“Here am I, the servant of the Lord;
let it be with me according to your word.”
He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn
from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything.
An old Irish rhyme says:
“To dwell above with the saints I love,
O, that will be glory.
But to live below
With the saints I know,
That’s another story!”
I chuckle thinking of that rhyme because it reminds me that we are all works in progress. God isn’t finished with those who live below! Christ came for His great purpose to create a new community, and
“to present the church to himself in splendour, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind – yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:27).
Oh for the eyes to see ourselves as Jesus sees us! This is the church Jesus loves and into which He pours His life. As the church we are Christ’s body in the world, the continuation of His incarnation. The Word is becoming flesh in us.
Although the risen Jesus of Nazareth is no longer physically present in the world, He is doing His work in us through His Spirit. Lines attributed to Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) set forth our dignity and calling as Christ in the world:
“Christ has no body but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good.
Yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.”
By calling Christ the head of the body, the church, in today’s text, Paul highlights our organic relationship with Christ. We depend on Christ as our head, and He depends on us as His body. What would a body be without a head! But what would a head be without its body? Christ is really counting on us!
By calling Christ the head of the body, Paul also highlights our relationship with all other members of Christ’s body. In making us one with Himself, Christ makes us one with all others who confess His name. Paul makes our organic oneness clear: “So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another” (Romans 12:5). The foot cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you,” nor can the ear say that to the eye (See 1 Corinthians 12:12-26).
Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem is the beginning of a new Genesis. It is the beginning of God’s “new creation”, God’s “new humanity”, called the church (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:15). Jesus stands on the earth as “the last Adam” to fulfill God’s purposes for the world (1 Corinthians 15:45-49). The image of God marred by the first Adam is being renewed in us who believe. Paul picks up this grand theme later in his letter to the Colossians, saying they are “being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:10). God has big plans for His new creation, the church! He isn’t finished with us yet!
Until we live above with the saints we love, we celebrate here the saints we know. For we are God’s new humanity, His new creation, His very body in this world! The high God of heaven humbled Himself to be born in a manger, and every day humbles Himself by empowering us to do His work in the world. That is His love for us. Our head in heaven pours His very life into us through His Spirit to be His voice and hands blessing the world.
- What are Christ’s plans for His body, the church?
- What are your prayers for the church local and worldwide?