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“Now you together constitute the body of the Messiah,
and individually you are parts of it.”
1 Corinthians 12:27 CJB
We have been focusing in this collection of posts on “the corporate Christ” with a special emphasis on the anointing of the Holy Spirit in relation to it. The connection between the Body of Christ and the anointing is inherent in the title, “Christ”, of which Jesus, the Son of God/Son of Man, has been endowed and has subsequently imputed to His Body. The title “Christ” literally means, “Anointed One” and so the phrase “the Body of Christ” literally means, “the Body of (the) Anointed One.” Referring to the Body of Christ in this way brings to the fore some of the most significant realities of who we are and what we are called to embody and express as members of the corporate Christ, the Body of the Anointed One.
In reality, “the corporate Christ” is a single spiritual entity consisting of both the Head and Body together as one. It has never been God’s intention that the Head be fully anointed and the Body not be. The Body is “the fullness of Him” (Ephesians 1:23) and, therefore, is to bear the same full expression of the anointing that is upon the Head. In a fully integrated and comprehensive way, we are called to be “the anointed Body of the Anointed One.”
As the anointing of the Holy Spirit has four primary operations/expressions, so the Body of Christ is to embody and express these same four facets/”faces.” We have identified these in this series as:
- Priestly anointing/The face of the ox;
- Prophetic anointing/The face of the eagle;
- Kingly anointing/The face of the lion;
- Sonship anointing/The face of the man.
These four facets/”faces” define the full scope and sphere of our collective calling as the Body of Christ!
The searching question that needs to be asked, then, is: “As the various corporate expressions of the Body of Christ, are we collectively pursuing and consistently increasing in these four operations/expressions of the anointing of the Holy Spirit?” If we are, then let us continue to press on to greater maturity and manifestation in regard to them. If we are not, however, then I would dare say that we are tragically missing the purpose of our corporate calling and need to do some deep heart searching and collective repentance in relation to it.
In order to more clearly consider this question, then, I’d like to paint a picture of what an assembly of believers might look like and be characterized by where the anointing of the Holy Spirit is diligently sought and faithfully yielded to in its four-fold operation/expression. (In this post we will consider the first of these four facets/”faces”, the priestly anointing, and in following posts we will consider the remaining three.)
Priestly Anointing/The Face of the Ox
- Priesthood of believers – In the new covenant, all who are indwelt by Christ, the anointed High Priest, are incorporated into God’s anointed, royal priesthood. (See 1 Peter 2:9.) The priestly anointing that is upon the Head, therefore, is ever working to equip and find expression through ALL of God’s people as His new covenant priests. Although this anointing will raise up and work through servant leaders among the people, it will never work to establish a clergy/laity divide or establish any form or format that will foster over-functioning on the part of a few and passivity and/or exclusion on the part of the many. Instead, each member will be encouraged and equipped to contribute something of spiritual and/or practical priestly value to the gathering according to their individual giftings as the Spirit orchestrates and leads the assembly. (See 1 Corinthians 14:26) Full-body, priestly functioning is a hallmark of an expression of the ekklesia that is maturing in and manifesting the priestly anointing.
- Praise and worship – As a primary emphasis, the priestly anointing will seek to lead a local expression of the Body of Christ into ever deeper experiences and expressions of corporate praise and worship. Ministering unto the Lord in this way is a primary priestly calling and thus will be given the highest priority as well as ample time and space for its unhurried expression, exploration, and cultivation. Whatever external form this may take, corporate times of praise and worship will be filled with spiritual vitality and reality, open to Spirit-led creativity and spontaneity, and, most of all, endued with the manifest presence and sovereign operation of God’s Spirit. A cultivated culture of anointed praise and worship will spill over into all aspects and areas of life, producing consecrated, priestly disciples of Jesus Christ.
- Prayer and intercession – Closely connected to and integrated with this, the priestly anointing will further lead the Body of Christ into increasing depths and degrees of corporate prayer and intercession. Prayer will not merely be a formality or be relegated to the fringes of the corporate life, but will become the very heartbeat of the assembly. Prayer will be esteemed as the indispensable foundation of the ekklesia as a priestly company and intercession as its most lofty and weighty vocation.
- The Word and teaching – The priestly anointing will further work within the various members so that the “word of Christ” will dwell richly within and among them. This will be for the fostering of a lifestyle and culture of mutual teaching, exhortation, counseling, and encouragement in the Scriptures (Colossians 3:16.) In addition, this priestly anointing will equip and empower a plurality of servant leaders among the people who labor in the Word and teaching for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry (1 Peter 5:1-4; Ephesians 4:11-12.)
- Service and sacrifice – The priestly anointing, typified by the face of the ox, is in its essence one of service and sacrifice. Thus, as it is collectively pursued, there will be a permeating spirit of service and sacrifice that touches significantly upon each member’s time, energy, and resources. One characteristic of this will be that the saints will be more concerned about what they are investing into the collective expression than in what they are receiving back from it for themselves. All things will be done unselfishly for the glory and pleasure of God and for the blessing and benefit of others.
- Evangelism and outreach – Lastly, the priestly anointing will ever be working through the various members to reach out to those outside of their number in order to regularly bring God to people and people to God. Paul spoke of “…the priestly duty of preaching the gospel” in Romans 15:16 (NIV.) Where the priestly anointing is embodied and expressed, a spirit of evangelism and outreach will naturally be a distinctive mark.
This, then, is a brief picture of the primary facets and features of an expression of “the anointed Body of the Anointed One” when the priestly anointing is being collectively pursued and consistently manifested within it.
The priestly anointing is foundational to all that follows in regard to the other three facets/”faces” of the anointing, and so we must all begin our pursuit of and engagement with the Holy Spirit along these priestly lines if we desire to collectively progress into the full embodiment and expression of the anointing.
We will consider a similar picture of the prophetic anointing as it is incorporated into the Body of Christ in the next post of this collection.