THE WHOLE CHRIST
(Grasping for the Big Picture)There is a new song just recently released by the band, the Eagles, which is called: "Frail Grasp on the Big Picture." It is mostly a political song about how we have lost sight of what's really going on in the world today. I believe the title of that song also aptly describes the situation of most Christians today.
God's Big Picture
We have a very frail grasp on God's big picture. Therefore, we cannot see the forest for the trees. If we fail to see this "picture," we will never understand our particular place in that picture. Therefore, it is vitally essential that we all learn to see how God sees. We need to see His desire, will, and purpose from His point of view.
And what is God's point of view? What is he gazing at? What is his one focus and passion? What is his purpose, goal, and divine will? What is his panoramic view? What is his Big Picture?
To Head Up all Things in Christ
"Making known to us the mystery of His will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in himself, unto the economy of the fullness of the times, to head up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth, in him."
Ephesians 1:9, 10
The Father's great desire is to sum up or head up all things in his Son. He wants to make him (the Son) the Head and Center of all things in heaven and on earth. This is his great goal. This is his eternal purpose (or will).
But how is God going to accomplish his goal? How is God going to make Christ the Head and Center of all things? Paul reveals this "mystery" of his will to us in this first chapter of the Ephesian letter.
The Plan of God
In verse ten of Ephesians, chapter one, Paul uses a word in the Greek called: oikonomia. This word is translated as; plan, household management, administration, or economy. This shows us that God not only has a purpose, he also has a plan. The purpose is his goal, the destination he is moving towards. The plan is the step-by-step procedure that he will take to accomplish that goal. The goal, as we have read, is to make Christ the Head and Center of all things. But how is God going to arrive at this goal?
"In whom also we were designated as an inheritance having been predestinated according to the purpose of the One who works all things according to the counsel of his will that we would be to the praise of his glory who have first hoped in Christ."
Ephesians 1: 11, 12
In these verses (and Eph. 1: 22, 23; Eph. 3: 9, 10) it is very clear that God's plan is to use the church (us) to accomplish his plan. But the problem is that most of the church today is failing to grasp the big picture. Our Christ is way too small. By and large, we do not see the whole Christ.
Who is this Christ?
Paul and the other New Testament writers are constantly speaking of Christ, or the Christ. But I propose that we have missed the full meaning of who this Christ is. We mostly just know him after the flesh (II Cor. 5:16).
"Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"
This was Paul's first contact with the living Lord. Notice that Jesus did not ask why are you persecuting My church? He asked why Paul was persecuting him. In the thought of God, there is no separation between Jesus and the church. This is why Jesus said in Matthew 25:40; "Truly I say to you, inasmuch as you have done it to one of these, the least of my brothers, you have done it to Me."
Paul "cut his teeth" as a new believer with a revelation of the oneness of Christ and the church. He understood what had taken place in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The One Grain of Wheat
"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."
"Because those whom he foreknew, he also predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the Firstborn among many brothers."
"He must increase, but I must decrease . . ."
Yes, it's true that Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose from the dead to save you from your sins. But there is much more to God's plan than that! His death and resurrection also gave birth to a whole new race. The old race of Adam (the old humanity) was crucified with him. And when he was raised up, his body (the new humanity) was raised with him (John 2:21). This was a whole new creation. This was the one new man (Col. 3: 10, 11). This was the many grains that came from the One Grain that was willing to fall into the ground and die.
You see, dear believers, when Christ was raised from the dead we were all raised with him (Rom. 6:4). When he emerged out of the womb of death, he came forth as the Head of a new corporate body. That "birth" brought forth the "Whole Christ," first the Head and then the Body. But the Head and Body make up One Person! The Head didn't come out and then the Body later. How is a person born? They come out head first, but the body is attached. The body is also part of the same person.
The Head and Body as One
The problem is that our fallen minds divide up everything. We love to dissect, chop up, divide, and sub-divide, and categorize. Oneness is not part of our fallen mindset. We must have revelation to grasp these things.
"For even as the body is one and has many members, yet all the members of the body, being many, are one body, so also is the Christ."
I Cor. 12:12
"Now I mean this, that each of you says; I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas, and I of Christ. Is Christ divided?"
I Cor. 1: 12-13a
"Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Absolutely not!"
I Cor. 6: 15
By these verses, we can clearly see that Paul is referring to the church as Christ. But how could this be? Isn't that heresy? Isn't that blasphemy? We are not Christ. That is absolutely true. You and I are not Christ. However, Paul never told us that the church is people. The church is not people. The church is Christ in People!
"The mystery which has been hidden from the ages and from the generations but now has been manifested to his saints: to whom God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."
Col. 1: 26, 27
You see, there is a part of you that is Christ. And that part is the church. The Head and the Body are one. The Head and the Body make up one new Person, and that Person is Christ! He is not just an individual Man anymore. He is now a corporate Man who is made up of Jesus Christ as the Head and all the believers as the Body (Col. 3:11). And yet, because he lives in each member of the Body, he is the Body as well as the Head. The Head is Christ and the Body is Christ. Christ is the All in all.
Brothers and Sisters, this is the Christ we must embrace. This is the Christ we must get to know. This is the Christ we must preach. This is the whole Christ. This is the full Christ. May we be able to see and live in this wonderfully complete Christ.