The word incorporation is used to define corporate; the main term in our quarterly this week. The word corporate here is used to distinguish between parts and the whole. The parts are the individual members of the church; the whole would be the members together. The root of the word corporate means body. So, it is no surprise that the meaning of the word corporate always refers to body. For example, corporate can mean combined into one body or belonging to an incorporated body. To incorporate can mean to unite closely or so as to form one body.
As we see, the word corporate is more then just talking about the whole as opposed to the parts. For, example, we can talk about the Congress or the Senate (in other countries they have parliaments) as a whole, but they are not as one body. Any legislation approved was voted on by a majority. Even the USA's Supreme Court works this way. Although all 9 judges make the one body, they vote on their cases and the majority wins. So, technically speaking neither corporate entity is really one. They are not really incorporated. However, a symphony orchestra is incorporated for they all play as one. What brings a musical group together is the fact that they all play the same musical piece. All musicians play different parts of the same musical piece, and yes, under the direction of a conductor. Although, all the musicians play from the same music sheet, many details in that sheet can be left for interpretation. So, it is the job of the Conductor to interpret that which is not clear. So, when we talk about an orchestra in a corporate sense we are talking about the orchestra and its conductor. If the orchestra was a body, then the conductor would be the head and musicians the rest of the body.
Paul used a metaphor for the church as a body. He identified the head as Christ, and the members are the rest of the body. Of course, in this case the head is used as a way of talking about the brain. Two lessons come out of this metaphor. 1. The body is joined together through the head – which is the brain. 2. The body works in harmony through the brain.
Regarding lesson number 1: Paul says in Ephesians 4: 15 – 16,
Ephesians 4: 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Ephesians 4: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
The words "From Whom" in the beginning of verse 16 refer to Jesus. This means that the body is "…fitly joined together and compacted …," because and through the Head (brain) which is Jesus. The brain is what keeps our body connected. Paul is saying that it is Jesus which keeps the church united. This is not something we can accomplish ourselves. Someone once was a very good illustration of this principle by drawing a triangle, with the case on the bottom and the peak at the top. The peak and the base are in opposite sides. Of course the peak is very narrow, the base very wide. Christ is at the top peak, but not in the base. So, the closer we are to the base, the farther from Christ, and the less unity. However, the closer we are to the top peak, the closer we are to Christ, the farther from the bottom, and the more unity. Oneness with Christ brings oneness with each other. Have you ever asked yourself why the church is so fragmented?
Regarding lesson number two: the rest of verse 16 says that this oneness in the body allows the "… joints to supply effectual work which makes increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." If it is the head that keeps the body together, then the work it produces must come through the head, also. We know that most movements of our body makes would not happen unless the brain instructed the body part to move. When we wink, one eyelid does not tell the other, "You stay open while I shut." The brain does that. If I grab something, the fingers do not tell the arm to extend nor does the arm tell the hand to open up. No, the brain does that. The Brain does not advice the members of the body, it commands them. The members of the body submit to the brain. There is oneness in work, because the brain orders and coordinates everything in the body. So, there is constant communication between the members of the body and the brain. So, should be with the Church. The members of the church submit to Christ. Christ commands the members; He is not giving the members advice. Yes, the church members can choose not to listen and go their own way, but not without consequences. Christ orders and coordinates everything. If the members consult, it should be to all consult Christ, not just each other.
Ironically, the only reason there is care and sympathy for one another is through Christ. Paul illustrates this with the body again in 1 Corinthians 12: 25 – 26,
1 Corinthians 12: 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
1 Corinthians 12: 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
We know that we would not feel pain, unless the brain told the body part that it is in pain. In fact, the brain lets the other parts of the body know that the one part is in pain. That is how it can sympathize with each other. Hit your toe. Your leg will try to protect your foot. Your hand wants to massage it. The brain did all of that. So, is with the Church. It is only in connection with Christ that we can have sympathy for other members of the church or even all members of mankind; since, Christ died for all men (2 Corinthians 5:15).