“And he put all things under his feet
and gave him as head over all things to the church,
which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.…”
Consider this dialogue between Augustine and some friends:
“I want you to know that I am now a Christian.”
“I shall not believe it, or count you as a Christian until I see you in the Church of Christ.”
“Is it then the walls of a church that make a Christian?”
The answer is no. The walls of a church do not make a Christian, but can a Christian live and serve well as a Christian without entering the walls of the church? It is a hard question. Some say, “I have been hurt badly in the church.” I have been, too.
Yet what is God’s attitude toward the church, even with all its foibles and failures? As Paul completes his portrait of the power he wants the Ephesians to know, he mentions the particular power God gives to the church. Yes, God strengthens individual Christians. But Jesus has authority over his body, concern for this body, and calls His people to unite with this body.
The last phrase of this section is perplexing. How is the church the fullness of him who fills all in all? F.F. Bruce summarizes the point well: “The fullness of deity resides in (Jesus), and out of that fullness his church is being constantly supplied.”
So the church is the body Jesus rules, cares for, and supplies with His power. What does this mean for you as an individual Christian? You must participate in the life of the church. Why would you neglect such a source of power in a world where you are so weak? How can you expect to mature in your faith and life if you isolate yourself from the place where God’s truth is proclaimed, God’s people are united, and God’s work is done?
The objections return:
“You do not know what I have been through.”
“There are so many lousy churches out there.”
“Every church is full of flaws.”
Again, the objections have some merit. Not all churches are alike, and you must search for a church that loves God and people well. No church is close to perfect. The church will fail you.
But keep up the pursuit. You need God’s power to live faithfully and fruitfully for Him, and He gives you such power through the ministry of the church. God’s truth transforms you. God’s people encourage you. God’s labor matures you. While you can imitate much of this in your own little world, God’s richest blessings are upon those who choose to unite with God’s people to proclaim God’s glory and perform God’s service.
You need to know you have God’s incomprehensible, resurrection, and authoritative power. You must also realize the reality of God’s particular power in the church. May you seek, find, and receive from God’s fullness there.