Growing Up In Christ
“11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 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. 14 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 men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16 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.” (Ephesians 4:11-16)
Paul affirmed in this passage that we have a responsibility to prepare ourselves for works of service and that there are some among us who have the responsibility to encourage and inform us about these matters. Some of us have the responsibility to teach and demonstrate while the rest have the responsibility to learn and do. We must be prepared and active in the work of God if we are to, as verse 15 says, “grow up in Christ”. This is not an option for us. It is a responsibility and an opportunity.
This whole process is almost like building blocks. One thing goes on top of another. Reread the passage again. Preparing for works of service leads us to have a clearer vision concerning Satan’s evil schemes – verse 14, moves us toward growing up in Christ – verse 15 and then clarifies our position in the body while we each do our own part – verse 16.
I believe that churches struggle because we often miss this concept. When people are unsure of their purpose and feel inadequate to work within it, complaints and criticism will flow like water in a river. While on the other hand, those who have a clear view of purpose and feel confident in what they are doing, rarely complain.
Many elders and preachers spend the bulk of their time in churches “putting out fires”. By this I mean that they spend their time stroking one member or another trying to keep peace in the family. This is wrong. It is just purely wrong. It is a complete waste of time and purpose in the Body of Christ. It never addresses the problem. Instead, elders and preachers need to spend our time teaching, encouraging and demonstrating “works of service”, while we administer this grace in the Body of Christ.
Ephesians is a progressive book. When the preparation for works of service is employed into the body and people catch the spirit of the whole matter, things begin to change. There will be a difference in our walk. It will no longer be vain, but purposeful – 4:17ff. It will express itself in the love of God – 5:1f. It will be illuminated by light – 5:8ff. It will consider its ways in wisdom – 5:16. It will give way to praise – 5:19ff. It will bring us into a submissive spirit – 5:21-22. It will upright relationships in the pattern of Jesus Himself – 5:25ff. It will affect the family in a positive way – 6:1ff. And finally, it will equip us and suit us up for the battle with evil – 6:10ff.
It is amazing how this all works. These things do not come just from Bible study a time or two a week, but from putting into practice the principles of God and expressing them in worshipful acts of good in the lives of others. We are not made better for what we do for ourselves. We are made better by what we do for others. But, hasn’t that always been God’s way?
I am encouraging myself and our elders to become more concentrated on training and demonstration of works of service and I am encouraging you to get outside of yourself and express your worship to God through helping others in the world with whatever it takes to serve them. In doing this, this church will be blessed, God will be worshiped and the Body will be working within its purpose, growing strong and resilient as we live and work in an evil world.
Spend a little time in Ephesians. It might just be an eye opening experience. But be careful, open eyes bring big responsibility.