We are excited to be running a series of post that are excerpts from Alan’s new book, 5Q:Reactivating the Original Intelligence and Capacity of the Body of Christ. If you haven’t purchased your copy, you want to do that today! 5Q is the harmonic equivalent of a Symphony in the Body of Christ and the music of God’s Kingdom needs you to add your voice!
From the Chapter, Embodiment: The Fivefold Modes of Jesus’ Presence in the Church:
Apart from simply affirming what Christians have always believed about Jesus, that although he is eternal God, he was enfleshed in human form; and that he lived a perfect and exemplary life; that he died to redeem a lost and broken world; that he was vindicated by God in his bodily resurrection; that he has ascended to effective lordship at the right hand of the Father: and that he will return to redeem his people — I simply want to highlight here those aspects of Christ’s person and work (Christology) as they directly impinge upon his people…the Body of Christ.
First it is worth touching base with just one selection from Paul to get a feel for the NT vision of the absolute significance of Christ for the entire cosmos but also and perhaps especially for the church.
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:13-20).”
Please take note reader, because this it is vital to understand how 5Q is central to the church’s life and purposes. Firstborn… ruler… dominion… preeminent… all things… the language is comprehensive and symphonic. He brings all things together and gives them their true meaning. He is the Symphony of the Ages.[bctt tweet=’Jesus brings all things together and gives them their true meaning. He is the Symphony of the Ages.’ #5Q]
This is no reductionist, privatized, “Jesus-in-my-heart” type piety; here we are given a vision of the universal and cosmic significance of Jesus.
Jesus is here worshipped as the organizing principle of the entire cosmos! He is also at the same time Head of his Body, the Church.
He so impresses himself on his body that it is impossible to separate the two. The Jesus who rules the universe is Lord of the church. The Church is not a mere historical effect of Christ; she is his ‘fullness’ and his ‘Body’. Therefore to encounter Christ the Head, one will need also to encounter the Body of Christ—for they are indivisible.[bctt tweet=’To encounter Christ the Head, one will need to encounter the Body of Christ, for they are indivisible.’]
The church is the one place on earth that Jesus is taken with the utmost seriousness. Why? Because it is in our relationship with Jesus that the very life, identify, and purpose of the ecclesia is at stake.
This is what I call Christ//Body of Christ—the belief that the Body is the immediate recipient, the living index, of the life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus the Messiah, everything about him, his person, and his work—without reduction—sets the primary template for the movement that claims his name. Or as Stanley Hauerwas says “…the whole life of Jesus is to be understood as determinative for the whole life of the church.”[bctt tweet=’The Body of Christ is the immediate recipient, the living index, of the life and ministry of Jesus.’ #5Q]
Furthermore, the church is the chosen instrument through which Christ may continue to work and to bear witness to himself. If the church is the primary agent of Jesus’ kingdom, then every aspect of the culture of the church should reflect him in some way or another. In fact, one can perhaps say that the church is dysfunctional to the degree that it lacks focus on Jesus. I suggest that this lack of conformity to our Lord lies at the root of much of our malaise.
If we take the pattern/form of Jesus as determinative for every aspect of his Body, then it stands to reason that the life of his people must be directly formed around on the life and teaching of Jesus. And it is this necessary correspondence between Jesus and his people that sets the primary template for the culture and expression of the church. He is the Archetype and we are to be the reflective image (e.g. Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 3:18) that are together and individually being conformed to his likeness.
In order to remain true to this unique calling, churches (and individual disciples as well) need to constantly undergo the process of returning to Jesus to assess whether we are faithful to him, whether we rightly express his person and work.
By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:10-11)
Or as George Beasley-Murray put it, “The apostles were commissioned to carry on Christ’s work, and not to begin a new one.”
This is as true for us as it was for the original apostles.
How is this true for you today? This excerpt sets before us some challenges that we can only enter into through Christ’s presence. Did you read anything that has pushed you? Moved you? Add your unique voice to the conversation in the comments below. Let us hear how 5Q is helping/impacting/guiding you on your journey.