The fullness of Christ

"...the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him Who fills everything with Himself" (Ephesians 1:22-23).

In this verse we see another of the paradoxes that Paul enjoyed. If Christ fills all in all, why does He need the church, to the extreme of saying that she is His fullness? If He fills everything with Himself, why does He need somebody else?

The paradoxes are apparent contradictions, but not real contradictions. And in this case we have a paradox. John Calvin explains this to us better than we could. "It is the greatest honor to the church that the Son of God considers Himself as imperfect in a certain degree while He is not united to us. What a consolation it is to us to know that it will not be so until we are in His Presence that He will have all His constitutional elements, or that He will desire to be considered as complete".

The point is not that He is not so huge that He cannot fill everything - in fact the Scriptures so declare: "He that descended, He is the same One that ascended way above all to fill everything with Himself" (Ephesians 4:9). Yet, He does not consider Himself in that way because He loves us, He loves His church. Nobody that knows the Scriptures in a wholesome way could ever deny His condition as the Son of God, the incarnated Word. He is Emmanuel (God with us) and as such, He fills everything with Himself.

Calvin continues explaining: "Of course, in regards to His Divine Essence, in no way He depends nor could ever be completed by the church. But as Husband of the church yes, He is not complete without His wife. One cannot think of Him as the Vine without His branches! Nor can you imagine Him as the Good Shepherd without His sheep. The Head finds its total expression in the body, the church. It is for the church, that He makes Himself as incomplete, as dependent, in order to include her, the church, so she can express His fullness.

When Christ compares Himself with a Husband, or a Vine, or a Shepherd, or as the Head, He is limiting Himself and makes space at His side for us to participate with Him of His glory. All these figures are incomplete without His complement.

But the Holy Spirit, immediately reaffirms the greatness of Christ when the apostle stated: "He Who fills all in all". This last statement balances the suggestion of an incomplete Christ without the church. It is not that He could be incomplete, but that for loving the church He accepts to be seen that way. He is and is not.

There is no greater grace than this: that the Divine Bridegroom has accepted to take a wife among humans. That the Divine Shepherd has sought for sheep to be in this sheepfold in the desert. That the True Vine has ingrafted in Himself branches of such low pedigree as ourselves. That He Who is the Head of all things has selected for Himself a Body of humans of this lowly earth.

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