As we have seen already in an earlier lesson, in the New Testament the church is represented by the metaphor of body. The church is the body of Christ. This metaphor alludes to several aspects of the church and the relation between Christ and His people. As the body of Christ, the church depends on Him for its very existence. He is the Head (Col. 1:18, Eph. 1:22) and the Source of the life of the church. Without Him there would be no church.
The church also derives its identity from Christ, for He is the Source and the Foundation and the Originator of its belief and teachings. Yet, the church is more than these things, as crucial as they are to its identity. It is Christ and His Word as revealed in Scripture that determine what the church is. Thus, the church derives its identity and significance from Christ.
In Ephesians 5:23-27, Paul uses the relationship between Christ and His church to illustrate the kind of relationship there should be between husband and wife. What are the key ideas of this relationship between Christ and His church?
Although we may be hesitant with the concept of submission because of how leaders in the centuries past have abused it, the church is nonetheless to be subject to the Head, Christ, and is subject to His authority. Our acknowledgment of Christ as the Head of the church helps us remember to whom our ultimate allegiance must belong, and that is the Lord Himself and to no one else. The church is to be organized, but that organization always must be subordinate to the authority of Jesus, the true Leader of our church.
“The church is built upon Christ as its foundation; it is to obey Christ as its head. It is not to depend upon man, or be controlled by man. Many claim that a position of trust in the church gives them authority to dictate what other men shall believe and what they shall do. This claim God does not sanction. The Saviour declares, ‘All ye are brethren.’ All are exposed to temptation, and are liable to error. Upon no finite being can we depend for guidance. The Rock of faith is the living presence of Christ in the church. Upon this the weakest may depend, and those who think themselves the strongest will prove to be the weakest, unless they make Christ their efficiency.” – Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 414.
|How can we learn to depend upon Christ and not upon any other “finite being”, as it is so easy to do?|