In my last post, I mentioned the short yet powerful statement found on the lips of Jesus in Matthew 16:18:
I will build my church.
Jesus truly is the great builder of God’s ekklesia, the church. Paul explains it this way in his letter to the Ephesians:
In him [Christ] you [the church] also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (2:22)
We should expect Christ to be the one who builds His church since He is the Head of His body. It would only make sense for Him to fulfill such a role.
Colossians goes on to declare this about Christ as the Head of the church:
And he [Christ] is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. (1:18; see also Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Colossians 2:10, 18-19)
When the Scripture teaches that Christ is head, it is communicating that He is:
- In control
- In charge
These are not words we generally like to hear in the western world, are they? These kind of cut away at our individualistic tendencies.
But if Scripture communicates such things about Christ as Head of the church, then this is to be our response: we are to be completely surrendered to Him. To see our lives submitted to Him is not an option. As I mentioned in the previous post, we cannot live our Christian life the Burger King way – Have it your way. Nor can we approach our walk with Christ as we approach a Subway sandwich line – I’ll have a little lettuce, some tomato, but no peppers or black olives.
When we entered into relationship with Christ, He simply bid us come and die. And we cannot get around this one. Just after Jesus said, ‘I will build my church,’ He went on to say:
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24)
Many people speak of their cross to bear as an annoying neighbour or difficult boss at work or barely making the monthly budget. While I do not want to negate the realities of such difficulties in our lives, the image of bearing our cross has more to do with death than some of the smaller trials of our lives.
Why do I conclude such? Because I look at what the cross meant for Christ – the sacrifice of death. The epitome of death, at least for the Christian, is the cross. The Son of God, who knew His life was headed towards the cross, also challenged His followers to embrace the cross. Again, this is not an option we can choose to consider if we so desire. It is part of the call to follow Christ.
No doubt most of us will not actually be put to death for our faith in Christ. But, more than anything, we are called to live as those who deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Him. It hurts but we know it to be so true and right.
And I can bank on it that the Head of the church will be quite pleased to use such people to build His church as ‘a dwelling place for God by His Spirit’ (Ephesians 2:22). When Christ looks upon a people who are servant-hearted, willing to lay down their lives for the sake of the gospel and for others, I can only imagine a smile begins to surface upon His face.
Sure, when I look around I see quite a few that do not seem to be interested in recognising Christ as Lord, submitted to Him as the Head and great builder of God’s ekklesia. But our response should not be one of frustration and continual complaint. That can be my default position – ‘Jesus, why don’t you do something about so and so over there.’ And just about every time I enter this mode, I am reminded of Matthew 16:18 – ‘I will build my church.’ Remember this: He is the Head, He is in control. And remember, He did promise that he would build His church.
Therefore, let us get on with our calling in Christ – to allow Him to be who He says He is, in our life and in the entire church. Let’s give Christ the room He deserves to reign as Head over all things to the church (Ephesians 1:22). Let us embrace Him as Lord and Master to whom we owe every bit of our lives. For as I’ve mentioned before, as we are committed to His Lordship, His Headship as builder of the church, we will move ever closer to walking out the high calling that we have received in Christ. This truly is glorious.
Click here to read on in the series – A Look At Matthew 16:13-20.