By Jeff Willis,

This week, we come to part 3 of our series on Riverwood’s definition of the Church, which is…

“The redeemed people of God living on mission together under the headship of Jesus to live out the implications of the Gospel.”

This week, Riverwood’s worship pastor, Jeff Willis, takes us through the phrase “under the headship of Jesus.”


“For in [Jesus] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.” Colossians 1:16-18 (NIV)

The passage above makes it clear that Jesus is over all things, including His Church. Here are five aspects of Christ’s headship as related to the church (aka, the body of Christ):

1. Jesus seeks to express His character and nature through His Church.
The purpose of a physical body is to express the life that’s in it. It’s the same with the body of Christ. The Church exists so that Jesus can express His personality in a visible way. The local body of Christ (the church) is called together regularly to display God’s life through the ministry of every believer. From God’s perspective, the purpose of the gathering of the church is to express His glorious Son and make Him visible. Like a beautiful puzzle, when all the pieces are assembled and placed together, we see the whole picture. So it is with God as the head and we as the body (many parts but one body) and when we are all in fellowship together and functioning the way we were created, God reveals Himself in a special way.

2. Jesus continues His earthly ministry through His Church.
When Jesus ascended into heaven, He chose to express Himself through a body of believers to continue His life and ministry on earth.  Luke 4 tells us how this plays out as God has sent us to proclaim the good news of Christ and has anointed to do just that.

3. Jesus directs both the Church and the work.
All throughout Scripture, we see references to people being obedient to the work of the church – and God shows up in mighty ways! Jesus worked with the members of His church, confirming their message with signs (Mark 16:20). In the book of Acts, we find the phrase “get up and go” repeated several times. In chapter 8, Jesus said it to Ananias. In chapter 10, he said it to Peter. As the head of the church, Jesus still says to His disciples today, “Get up and go.”

4. Jesus nourishes His body.
Just as you feed your body through your mouth, Jesus does the same with His body. Christ the head feeds His body through the ministry and functioning of each of its members.  That’s why it is critical we function and do the same in feeding the other sheep in the Lord’s pasture.

5. Jesus is the source of the Church’s life.
Jesus supplies all that His body needs, and we get our very life and being from Him. Christ lives inside every believer by faith. The eternal purpose of God is centered upon making Jesus the absolute head over all things. God’s goal has always been the establishment of the complete sovereignty and supremacy of His Son. And Jesus Christ, through his birth, life, death and resurrection, reveals he is a God who is over all and in all things.

When God’s people put themselves under His direct headship, the result is perfect unity. One day, all of creation will see that Christ is indeed “head over all things”. Let us press forward under His leading and for His glory.