Corpus Christi*, in Latin, means “Body of Christ”. While that phrase can refer to several things, let’s consider the Body of Christ as described in 1 Corinthians 12. This refers to all of the people who follow Jesus Christ, or the church.
Ephesians 4:14-16 teaches us that Jesus is the Head of the church.
As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
Ephesians 4:14-16 NASB
Jesus is the head (the brains behind the body, so to speak) in an operational sense. And, the way I see it, He is the head (the “head honcho”; the shot-caller) in the organizational sense.
Not a preacher. Not a board of elders. Not a denominational leader. Not even the apostles. Jesus is the Head of the church.
While the church has had leaders since Pentecost (Acts 2), who provide maturity and insight from their own walk with Jesus, any Christian leader who claims that he or she is the ultimate head of the church would be clearly contradicting the Bible (I don’t personally know any, but keep your eyes open).
So, what does it mean that Jesus is the Head of the church?
- He is smarter than we are. When we only follow the plans of mere people, following what others tell us will “work” – whether in business, culture, or our neighborhood – we miss out on Divine leadership. Throughout recorded history, God has taken human wisdom, and turned it on its head. Doing something that we think is a good idea, but which we know counters God’s instructions, is a bad start. When we do this individually, we – and those around us – may have to pay the consequences. When we try to institutionalize practices that run contrary to God’s commands in a congregation, many can be harmed.
- He gives us direction. What worked really well for the congregation that meets down the road, or even for our congregation in the past, may or may not be what God has in mind for each of us, today. His calling to those throughout history has been as widely diverse as the people that He has used to accomplish His purpose.
- He helps us all work together. Whenever we take our eyes off of Jesus, and stop looking to Him as our primary source of wisdom and direction, we can easily go off in our separate directions. If we’re all heading in a random direction that we think is right, the opposition – like a hunting lioness or coyote – can pick us off as we wander off from the rest of the “herd”. On the other hand, when God starts to call multiple people to the same thing, there is often a big “God thing” brewing.
Once we agree on Who leads the church, let’s take a look in the next installment of this article at what we should be doing as part of the church.