More than the sum of our parts

All people, of all religions, of all nations, and at all times, are on an all-out quest for, and agonize for, fullness. They will invest in it to get it at any cost. And when they discover it and buy it, they realize it would be a bargain at twice what they paid.

“And hath put all things under his feet (Christ’s), and gave him to be head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23).

Fullness is defined as that which fills with a full content, an overflowing wealth of blessing, a super-abundance, an up-welling. This fullness Paul describes as the Body of Christ. His body is vitally connected and wholly filled up with the mighty workings of Christ, our Lord, whose Head is in the heavens, but his body is on earth. As the church, we are the body and “the fullness of him.” Christ is both the source and the substance of the fullness. The size of the fullness is not trivial but is an immensity that fills all things. It is a real Person, a real Presence.

The giving or receiving of the fullness satisfies human desire, that hunger that aches for the substance of its Creator and Redeemer. Its opposite is emptiness and striving.

This is a kind of fullness that can be passed on to others. When described by one who has received the fullness, the message carries an innate ability to re-create its fullness again and again as it is being comprehended by the listening ear. The ear welcoming the message responds with a new kind of hearing that is filled with hope. It now becomes a living ear whose center is the heart, enabled with a new capacity, “the hearing of faith” (cf. Gal. 3:2) as the fullness does its work. To reject the fullness is due to ‘willful deafness’ (cf. Acts 28:26-27), refusing to believe because of perversity of will.

Let’s illustrate the flow of this virtue, Christ’s fullness pouring through us, his body. Recently my son, Benjamin, a U.S. Army Ranger, was called away from his base to attend a funeral for a fallen friend and Ranger. He was one of six pallbearers. The whole small town knew this soldier and Ben had never seen such a patriotic and emotional gathering. The notable thing to Ben was the soldier’s mom. She was so thankful the boys came to honor her dead, as soldiers who faced the same risk. ‘Taps’ was played, then the twenty-one gun salute, as his flag was clutched in her bosom. But here’s the point: she had to have multiple hugs from each of the Rangers because they had become now a real extension of him, her son. This ministry to her grieving soul was incalculable.

So it is that we bring a sense of Christ. It is tangible, it is real, this extension we bring of Jesus.

 “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus.” (2 Cor. 4:6) We bring him in his fullness, his very face! He really did rise from the dead as the eye witnesses said on oath. “Did not our heart burn within us?” the two men exclaimed as they walked and talked and ate with the risen Christ (Luke 24:32). There really is reason to hope because “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Ghost which is given to us” (Rom. 5:5).

We will delve deeper into this subject in another post.

Tim Halverson

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