I've been thinking about this verse for a few days now. Paul says the church is the fullness of Christ. How is the church the fullness of Christ? My thought is that it is incarnational. The church, Christ's body, is the physical form of His presence on earth. It is His fullness manifested. In its expression, the church is the fullness of Christ displayed, embodied. This morning I pondered other Scripture on how Jesus embodied God the Father.
Jesus is described as:
"He is the image of the invisible God." Colossians 1:15
"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word." Hebrews 1:3
"the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God." 2 Corinthians 4:4
"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth...No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known." John 1:14, 18
"God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son." Colossians 1:19
"For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority." Colossians 2:9-10
We embody Christ through the words and deeds of His gospel. John the Baptist's disciples asked Jesus if he was the one who was to come, the promised Messiah. He replied: "Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor." Luke 7:22
"As the Body of Christ, we are the community through which Christ is present in and reaching out to the world. The witnessing role of the church is the representation to the world (and to each other in the church) of the fact and opportunity of the gospel. To be the Body of Christ, then, means to be the channels through which the work of Christ continues to be done. Christ has committed to his church the proclamation of the great event of reconciliation that he accomplished on the cross, and, in that sense, the completion of the work he both began and did: the declaration of the "wonderful deed of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Pet. 2:9). As his Body, we are to incorporate ("embody") that message as we proclaim it." Darrell Guder, Be My Witnesses, p28.
It is important that, as Christ-followers, we each embody Christ in us in word and in deed. But, I think it is more important, in light of Paul's description of the church as the fullness of Christ, to think about how the church corporately lives out our identity and role as the fullness of Christ. Together we embody Christ who embodied God the Father. We proclaim to the world in deed and in word the fullness of Christ. And one of those ways we embody this is through love. God always brings it back to that.
"No one has ever seen God: but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us." 1 John 4:12
"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." John 13:35
Incarnational and missional. The fullness of Christ.