So that the Body May Build Itself up in Love
The letter that the apostle Paul wrote to the Church in the city of Ephesus gives us a great picture of how we, as Christ followers, ought to live in unity in the Body (the collective community of believers). Chapter 4 of the Ephesian letter says, Christ Himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints to carry out the work of ministry so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of doctrine and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
Such a beautiful design. God, in His infinite wisdom has given us the knowledge of the design for the body, all the ay down to its individual parts.
If we take a look back when it says what Christ, himself, gave… we see that Scripture says that He (Jesus), Himself, gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers. And notice why He chose to give these roles, to be fulfilled by the people of the Church. It goes on to state, To equip the saints to carry out the work of ministry.
This concept describes discipleship at its very core. We are blessed to have ministry opportunities to serve God’s Church, we know that as we the Scriptures continue to tell us that it is so that Body may be built up. But this building up isn’t so that we see people come in and we provide spectacular programming and we have the best Church in town and the biggest and best buildings and most dynamic speakers and greatest worship! This design for Christ, Himself, giving us the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints and carry out the work of ministry was so that, (This is a key phrase), the Church may be built up and we would all reach unity in the faith and knowledge of the Son of God, who is Christ Jesus.
One applicable principle to lean into is that, at this point, the apostle Paul was gave in great detail that all of this would contribute to a picture of maturity in the faith and that we would attain the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Praise God that we do not have to try and think this up and decipher how the apostle Paul was encouraging the Church to live.
He goes onto describe an the development of people through infancy to maturity in verses 11-13, he states, Then we will no longer be infants tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. I don’t know about you all but when I was younger I was naive to say the least. If someone spoke to me in a convincing way, I would tend to believe them. But as you know, that isn’t always beneficial, let alone, at times, reckless. This is what the apostle is telling the Church. Grow up, he says and be mature in the body. Have an anchor and foundation in the Lord, Jesus Christ. Don’t be influenced so easily by the scheming of people.
I love it when Scripture tends to answer its own questions that it will naturally illicit. The Word goes on to tell us, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” This speaks to a self sufficient design that God created the Church to be. When we read verse 14 we read what we won’t be, and in verse 15 we read what we should be. It gives us the application and goal of what not being infants in the faith is supposed to look like and why. We are called to speak the truth in love. The book of Proverbs 27:6 says that “wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” When we speak the truth in love, it may not seem encouraging or loving, but if, by speaking the truth in love, we turn our brother or sister from sin, the book of Matthew chapter 18:15, says that we have won them over. I can’t think a better reason to speak the truth in love. Toward the end of verse 15 we see that Christ is exemplified as the head of the Body, the Church.
To end our time together, verse 16 send us home in such a great crescendo. It states, ” From him (Christ) the whole body, joined together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” When we think of the Church, we should acknowledge that God’s design is so perfect and we should be humbled that He included us in the work that He set out to accomplish. I want to encourage you all to think if you have a true understanding of the Body? Are you a part of the Body? Do you serve in ministry somewhere? Are you worshipping through the Word, Worship, and prayer? Would you say that you are seeking to be equipped to contribute to the building itself up in love? Or does that concept not land on you?
I am praying that we all, in cooperation with the Holy Spirit, grow to build ourselves up in love, and not in vein. That we would participate in the things of ministry in order that we would act in the support of what Scriptures say are the supporting ligaments, in order that we each do our work. When we understand that we play an individual role, that has a direct impact in a community that is designed to worship God, we understand that our individual roles and gifts will work in concert with others gifts and thats the beauty of the Body and its individual parts. We are not a body with two left hands. We have a left and right hand in order to carry out the work of ministry.
So, how are you taking part in the preparing generations of World changers?