Tuesday, January 9, 2018
The Church and Cosmic Union
22 And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Paul has been praying for the believers in Ephesus and now he goes into a description of the power of Christ and the role of the church. Jesus Christ, through resurrection power is now seated on the throne at the right hand of God the Father. Jesus is the head over the church, as ruler. Christ as the head, and the church as the body come to realize a type of cosmic union. This means that the church can experience the power at work which brings about new creation. United with Christ the church can receive a foretaste of the cosmic union of heaven and earth and experience resurrection power.
In a world that degrades and shames the church we are stunned to grasp the words of the Apostle Paul. The church was not respected in his day, but looked down upon as some kind of a sect which interfered with the natural order of the Roman world. Now, Paul is praying for and suggests that the church is connected to the God who reigns over all the earth. This is an amazing declaration and yet, it is a promise of hope for the role the church is to play in the world. Chrysostom tells us, “Oh, how high he has raised the church! For, as if he were lifting it by some stage machine, he has led it up to a great height and installed it on that throne. For where the head is, there is the body also." (Homily on Ephesians 3.1.20–23) The cosmic union of Christ and the church means that the church finds herself in a unique position, one which reflects the kingdom of God in this world.
Just as each individual is called to reflect Christ, so the church is called to reflect the kingdom. The uniting of God’s people in the community called the church, is to be Spirit-filled and powerful. That is, a healthy church will experience cosmic union with the head, Christ.
I’ve hit middle age and suddenly there are changes in my body. No longer can I eat everything I want because it seems to all have an affect on me. I can’t stay up all night traveling like I used to and not have to take a break. I have to think more about what it means to be healthy. I even broken down and bought one of those pill boxes for older folks so I can fill them with my daily vitamins and fish oil pills, etc. I think I’ve officially hit that place in my life where I know that I have to work on my health and not take it for granted.
For far too long the church has taken her health for granted. We just thought if we went along doing the things we’d done in the past we would be okay. Instead, we’re starting to get high cholesterol and hardening of our arteries. We are getting old and there is nothing new coming in to bring fresh life. The body is getting stiff and sometimes just going about our normal routines is tiresome.
But this is not the way it’s supposed to be! The church is to be in cosmic union with Christ, her head. By uniting with Christ there is supernatural power available to the church. Resurrection power is at hand, as well as the power of creation, but these only flow through the church that is healthy. For a church to remain healthy she must be intentional about her care, just as we are for our bodies. The church must exercise, be active, and minister in the name of Jesus. The church must take her vitamins, be engaged in discipleship and growing spiritually. As a community of faith the church must pray together and step into the power-enriched presence of Jesus Christ. Christ, the head, must be present in our churches, always invited, always worshipped. It’s far too easy to get caught up in the programs of church and forget about Jesus. The body going out her work, disconnected from the head will not survive.
The church is glorious and instituted by Jesus, himself. We are to take the place of the church very seriously and each follower of Jesus Christ is to participate in Christ through the church. May the attitudes of the world not influence our own embrace of Christ’s body, the church.
Lord, may your church be radiant and healthy with your presence. Amen.