Embedded within the message of the book of Colossians is the theme of the preeminence of Christ. To be preeminent is to say that Christ comes before all things (Colossians 1:17). The book makes this point in several ways. However, I want to hone in, specifically, on Colossians 1:18, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Paul gives three key relationships in which Christ is preeminent: the church, time and the resurrection. I would like to focus our next few bulletin articles dedicated to these relationships. Furthermore, I will not just emphasize the point that Christ comes before these things, but also that He makes them complete; for everything, “all fullness dwells in Christ” (Col. 1:19). Jesus is not just the origin of all existence, He is also that which makes the universe whole or complete (Hebrews 1:3). We see this, first, in His church:
Christ is the Fullness of the Church
As being head over the body, Christ makes His church complete. It is not whole without the Savior’s preeminence. I find this point interesting, since Paul makes this argument from the other side in the letter to the church in Ephesus. Often called the sister epistle to Colossians, Ephesians emphasizes the church of Christ, while its sister exalts the Christ of the church. You can see these two perspectives in this point: While Paul declares Christ is the fullness of the church, he also says that the church is the fullness of the Christ (Ephesians 1:22-23). Being the head makes Him a much more significant part of the body, however, Jesus is not whole without the rest of His form. There is an interdependent relationship, neither side is whole without the other.
Whether we consider the perspective of Colossians or Ephesians, we see the relevance of both Christ and the church as a unified package. The reality is that we cannot seek one without the other. Those unsatisfied with organized religion will often make requests such as “Give me God without religion,” or, “Give me Christ without the church!” But this is equivalent to asking for a relationship with the head, but not the body. That is a dead relationship! It is an attempt to associate with a severed head. To link together with the Christ, you must become a part of His body (1Corinthians 12:13).
Maybe it is the case that you pray to God privately with thanks for Christ, doing so in His name; while admirable, that is not the fullness of Christ. Perhaps you study your Bible regularly and meditate upon his crucifixion; while important, that is not what connects you to the head. It may be that you evangelize to those who don’t know Jesus; while praiseworthy, that alone will not fill your life with a relationship to the Savior. It is about religion, it is about His church! Don’t demean the Bride as irrelevant to her Husband (Ephesians 5:25).
We, as members of His body and His fullness, must recognize our responsibility in embracing our roles. Whatever they be, as hands or feet or legs or arms, remember that our effort in the church keeps us connected to the head. Never think that what you do for and with the church is insignificant. What we do, in the capacities we are able to do them, comes together to make Christ complete in His influence and the spread of His Word. Just as He makes you whole through His blood, so also, you return the favor by making Him whole.
Jesus is the fullness of the church, and to seek Him is to pursue being a valuable part of His body.