“the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” Ephesians 1:22-23
We hear a great deal today about incarnational ministry. It usually comes to us in the form of missional neocalvinism and its incarnational life groups and non-Sunday focussed churches. If we’re being quite honest, it is in many cases the modern echo of the old heresy, Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words. After all, if our good deeds to our fellow man, our works of faith, are themselves expressions of the gospel to others, then our evangelism need only take the form of words and sentences and definite assertions, as Denethor says of using the One Ring, at the utmost end of need.
But there is a true idea in the incarnational. When we talk about Christ’s body, we distinguish. First, there is Christ’s body proper, his physical body, in which the Father is exposited for all to see through the Person and work of the Son made flesh (John 1:18). Second, there is what is called the mystical body of Christ, which is his people, his church. This is the body of which the apostle speaks in these lofty verses.
If we take Paul very seriously, it’s hard to imagine the mighty chapter of Ephesians 1 coming to its crescendo in us. For he speaks of such things as God’s eternal purpose and the angelic majesties, the rule and authority and power and dominion of verse 21. But the reason is that, in all God’s cosmic work, it is in us, the redeemed children of Adam, that the fullness of God is expressed. For, he who made all things dwells in us, and in us, as the redeemed, the full range of his divine attributes is on brilliant display.
Indeed, he fills all things, but the particular, special presence of Christ is found in his people, in his church. And not just individual believers here and there, serving him truly in the world, but in the church proper, the church gathered. When we come together in corporate worship before God, sitting under the means of grace, we are the main event in the universe.
That certainly puts being on time to church in a different light, doesn’t it? So prepare your heart before God for this coming Lord’s Day, when the fullness of him who fills all things will be on display in our little gatherings. For truly it is then and there that our cup runneth over.