The Head of the Church
Sermon • Submitted • Presented • 17:55
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Jesus is great . . . so what?
Jesus is great . . . so what?
The last three have accidently turned into a sermon series. We didn’t plan it, didn’t really mean for it to happen, but it turned into one anyway. Two weeks ago, Joel preached about priorities and the understanding was that God and our faith takes first priority. Then last week we talked about how that plays out in our lives, how that shapes our thoughts and actions as we start with God’s designs for us instead of starting with our own desires and then trying to justify them.
Our text today puts a neat bow on this accidental series. It talks about how Jesus is preeminent, how He surpasses everyone and everything else. It’s a great passage that really dives into how incredible Jesus is. But when I sat down to write this sermon, I struggled a little bit because if I asked y’all as you walked in “how great is Jesus?” I would’ve gotten variations of the answer “He’s pretty great.” So if I stand up here and tell you that Jesus is the best, I’m not really doing anything to deepen your faith or to help your faith impact your life. In our text, I was drawn to verse 18 where it says that Jesus is the head of the body and it led me to a question that I want us to think on together this morning, what does it mean for Christ to be the head of the church? The head of our lives?
I Could Take It or Leave It
I Could Take It or Leave It
This metaphor of Jesus as the head of our lives, the head of the church can really challenge us and help us in how we think about our relation to God. And when we ask what it means for Christ to be the head of the church, there’s one answer that is ruled out pretty quickly. And that is the idea that Jesus as our head means that He’s pretty important, but I can just put my brain on auto-pilot without any need to actively engage it.
When I was in high school, I probably said a lot of things that I shouldn’t of or that I can’t really explain or justify. One of them I remember really vividly. I was sitting in the back corner of AP Statistics with Mr. Grange - one of the nerdiest people I have ever known. For whatever reason, the class was talking about what we would do with super powers. I said that if I ever got superpowers, I would become a supervillain. My justification was something to the effect that getting superpowers would invalidate my faith in God, removing any reason for me to be a morally good person, and paving the way for me to take over the world. Then, in undergrad, I would say to my peers that I was a Christian because that’s where I thought the evidence pointed to and if I was presented with evidence that proved otherwise I would change my belief. Whether it’s the existence of superpowers or some evidence, I was apparently willing to leave my head behind.
I want to compare that with a story in the book God’s Not Dead. A professor asks some atheists in his class “how much evidence would it take you to believe in God?” They said it would take a lot. He held up his briefcase and said “what if I had all that evidence here and showed it to you? Would you believe in God, start living by His rules, and go to church every Sunday?” They sheepishly reply, “probably not.” And that’s faith, in that story it’s faith in nothing or faith in humanism, but it’s faith. No matter what happens, no matter what you’re presented with, you don’t change course or leave it behind.
We are called to faith in Christ as our head, and no one can convince you to willingly leave your head behind. So what does it mean for Christ to be the head of the church? It means that we’re actively engaged in using our faith.
Another answer that we can rule out pretty quickly is that Jesus as our head means that He only gets to influence internal things.
This is one place where the head and body metaphor is really perfect. Your head is in charge of the internal workings of your body right? Your brain dictates your breathing, your heartbeat, all of those internal processes that keep you alive. But that’s definitely not where it stops. As I stand up here, my brain is directing my lungs, my diaphragm, my jaw, and my vocal cords to project words at you. It’s directing me to move my hands because I communicate non-verbally. It’s probably directing my feet to move around - although I’m so fidgety there might be just static or something on the nerves in my legs, I don’t know, I never took anatomy. Our heads direct the internal processes of our bodies, but they impact the people and environment around us.
Somewhere along the line, we got this idea that faith was a private thing. We picked up the idea that our faith should only impact us personally, that Jesus only impacts Christians and the church. But that’s ridiculous, our head directs and motivates us and the church to impact the people and environment around us. With Jesus as our head, we become His hands and feet to serve our neighbor, to reach the lost and the hopeless, to build up the marginalized and the suffering, and to connect people to Him.
We are called to faith in Christ as our head, and your head doesn’t just impact you internally. So what does it mean for Christ to be the head of the church? It means that Christ works in us to impact the world around us.
Both of these answers have given us a window into what it means for Jesus to be our head. It means that nothing can convince us to leave Him behind, that our faith is (as v. 23 says) stable, established, and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the Gospel. It means that our faith directs and motivates what we do to impact the world around us.
But more than that, and maybe this would’ve been a better sermon for last week and the day before Halloween, you can’t pull a Headless Horseman. Despite what the stories from Sleepy Hollow might tell you, it isn’t possible to live without a head. If you’re missing your head, it’s over, you’re done. If the church is ever missing it’s head, why bother? If we come together to sing some songs and eat some donuts without Jesus being here, without the Gospel being proclaimed, why would we even bother? If we grow and become a successful church and school without Jesus being there, without the Gospel being proclaimed, why would we even bother? In our lives, if Jesus isn’t the head, if we aren’t rooted in the Gospel - why bother? Jesus reconciled us to God in all things, He made peace with His blood on the cross, we are presented to God as holy and blameless and above reproach to God because of Jesus. If that isn’t there, why bother? You can’t live without your head literally and we can’t live without Jesus as our head metaphorically.
We are called to faith in Christ as our head, and you can’t live without your head. So what does it mean for Christ to be the head of the church? It means that Jesus is central to everything we do, and the love and forgiveness that He won for us never leaves our focus. Amen.