Jesus - The Head of the Body
The Kingdom of the Lord is described in the New Testament by comparing it to various concepts and relationships with which man is familiar. The very use of the term "kingdom" is a case in point. (Daniel 2:44, Matthew 16:18-20). We learn much about the nature of the organization of the church of Christ when we learn about the organization of a kingdom. The relationship that a true monarch sustains over his subjects, at least in theory, is the actual relationship that exists between Christ and his disciples. Because he is "King of Kings, and Lord of Lords" he has all authority over those who
belong to his church.
Another interesting and instructive description of the church is made by comparing it to the human body. "There is one body . . ." (Eph. 4:4.) Paul adds that He is the head of the body, the church . (Col. 1:18.) Thus it can be concluded that the same relationship that the head sustains over the body, as long as there is life, is the same one that ties the members of the church beneath the headship of the Son of God.
A body must have many members. Without these members it is unable to contain the "life" which comes from God. And each member of the body is important for the overall function of the body. Paul makes this very clear in I Corinthians 12 when discussing "spiritual gifts." He points out that it is not only necessary that the body have many members, but that these members be different, to some extent, one from another. "If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?" (v. 17.) Of course Paul was referring to the distinction between one spiritual gift and another, which were miraculous both in origin and use, but the principle remains the same. A body must have many members.
Just is necessary as having many members is the requirement that these members be connected together. In the human body this is achieved by a network of muscles, bones, arteries, veins, nerves, and skin. Thus the various members of the human body are held together by the force of the various parts of that body which have been designed for that purpose. But while force provides the source of power to keep the various members of the human body intact, voluntary submission to the Savior is the basis upon which members of the spiritual body are held together. Paul spoke of Christ as the Head, from which all the body by joints and hands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God." (Col. 2:19.) Thus, because of our submission to the Will of Christ, we are able to be one of many members, the majority of which we have never seen, which make up the structure known as the church of Christ. Thus the feeling of closeness that exists between myself and members of the church who reside in Africa, Japan, Germany or South America-people I have neither seen nor corresponded with-is able to exist. We are "knit together" with all Christians of every generation by our mutual acceptance of, and compliance with, the Will of Jesus. We have all confessed our faith in the same Son of God. We have all obeyed the same commands. We have all worshiped the same God according to the specifications of that testament. We have all endeavored to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. We have, therefore, become joined together by our mutual subjection to the Head of the body, Christ Jesus.
The human body is dependent upon its functioning to be able to continue to possess life. When one or many vital members of the body fail to function properly, thereby obstructing the overall function of the body,-death results. There are certain essential functions of every human body. The heart must continue to circulate blood; the lungs must continue to supply oxygen; and the bowels must continue to rid the body of harmful waste materials. The spiritual body must also function, or be without the promise of continued life. Members of the body which try to obstruct the overall functioning of the whole body must be corrected, or eliminated. (Certainly this was Paul's teaching in I Cor. 5.) The continuous dwelling of the Holy Spirit within the Body of Christ is dependent upon the continued proclamation of the gospel to the lost, and upon the edification of the various members within the body. The body must function for growth, or deteriorate. The human body has its limitations, and according to the law of nature must cease growth at some point and waste away. But the spiritual body of Christ is eternal; and, therefore, it must ever grow.
The human body is motivated by instructions which proceed forth from the head. Housed within the skull of the human body is the brain-the director of body actions. Every step taken by the feet, word spoken by the mouth, and object produced by the hand is done so at the direction of the brain. Jesus is the head of the church. He must control every action of the body. Jesus has provided direction for every step which the church is to take. His directions are contained in his Will -the new testament. Any action taken by the body which is not authorized by the head is taken in defiance of the supreme authority the Lord possesses and is a "rejection of the counsel of God."
I can direct my human body into any course of action that I choose as long as I do not violate the law of the Lord. Within the realm of things morally right I have this right to choose. My body, or any part thereof, has no right whatsoever to engage in any action without direction from my head. (In the physical body this is, of course, an impossibility.) The same must be recognized in the relationship which Jesus sustains over the church--His body. As an individual citizen, social creature, professional man,-in any and all of these realms I can conduct in my own affairs, as long as I do not violate any law of the Lord. In business, with the above mentioned restriction in mind, I can make my own decisions regarding the investment of funds, expansion of liabilities, etc. But as a member of the church-the body of Christ-I call not engage in any action without instruction from the Head, Christ, in the new testament. Jesus must direct every action of His body-the church.
(Next month, another article will deal with the application of the above-mentioned principles to prevent controversies.)
Truth Magazine III:5, pp.2-3