December 12, 2018 • Life for Leaders
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Yesterday, we saw that the church as the body of Christ is to reach “the perfect man,” that is, the stature and character of Christ himself. The last phrase of Ephesians 4:13 makes a similar point with different language. As we grow together, we will be “attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Admittedly, this is perplexing language. What is the fullness of Christ? What might be the “whole measure” of this fullness?
We were introduced to the fullness of Christ in Ephesians 1, where we read, “And God… appointed [Christ] to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (1:22-23). Here, the church is the body of Christ and also his “fullness.” We might paraphrase by saying that Christ so identifies with the church that he fills it completely. He is present throughout the church, in all of his people, all of the time.
So, turning back to Ephesians 4:13, “the fullness of Christ” is the church fully saturated with Christ, fully relating to Christ, fully embodying Christ’s presence in the world. The fullness of Christ is the church actually being all that God intends it to be, the people of God together, fully alive and flourishing, fully like Christ.
This kind of church will both proclaim and embody the gospel. This kind of church will demonstrate the unity Christ has forged through the cross. This kind of church will reach out with love and light to the world. This kind of church won’t just talk about Jesus but will “be Jesus” in every time and every place.
Something to Think About:
In what ways do you experience Christ’s presence in your church experience?
How might your church attain even more completely to “the whole measure of the fullness of Christ”?
What part might you play as your church grows to be more like Christ?
Something to Do:
Talk with a Christian friend or with your small group about this passage from Ephesians. Think together about how you might, as a community, live the fullness of Christ.
Gracious God, thank you for the amazing truth of who we are in Christ, both individually and corporately. Thank you for the wonder of being the body of Christ together, even the fullness of Christ. Indeed, may our corporate life be filled with Christ, with his spirit and truth, with his love and compassion. May we faithfully enact Christ’s presence in the world, so that his peace might permeate all things and so that many might be drawn to receive his salvation. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Jesus, the Image of the Invisible God (Colossians 1:15–29)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.