Growing Up Together
From [Christ] 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 4:16
Paul’s description of the Body of Christ reminds me of my own body. As I get older, it isn’t as “held together” as it used to be. Joints ache when asked to do simple tasks; other parts threaten to break down; moreover, some parts I didn’t know I had call for more attention. Unity in my body takes more work than ever.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians addressed his concern for the Church’s unity and maturity. Each member would need the fruit of the Spirit, including love, patience, and gentleness in order to maintain unity (4:2-3). They all had much in common: one Body, Spirit, Lord, hope, faith, baptism, and God the Father (4:4-6).
At the same time, each individual in the Church had been given a special gift or gifts to be used to serve the others (4:7). Some were called to be leaders “to equip [Christ’s] people for works of service” (4:11-12).
Maturity could not merely be the goal of a few members; it had to be the goal for every member in order to attain “the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (4:13). Maturity would enable them to avoid the influence of crafty, deceitful teachers, and it would help them to know Christ and draw from Him. They would be like a human body with all its parts working properly, functioning under the control of the head (4:14-16).
How sad it is to see members of churches who act like children, who squabble with sisters and brothers, who insist on their own way rather than patiently meeting the needs of others. And what a joy it is to see Christians who keep the unity through humility and gentleness, patiently bearing with one another in love.
If you and every other member of your church were to stand by a growth chart on the wall, how would you measure your Christian maturity? Are all of you willing to work harder than ever to maintain unity?
What is said about “growing up” in these other Scriptures: 1 Corinthians 3:1-2, 1 Peter 2:2, and 2 Peter 3:15-18?
Read another of Paul’s descriptions of one body with many members in 1 Corinthians 12:12-26. What can be said of the weaker, less honorable members?
Unity is not “sameness.” For other descriptions of the diverse gifts given to the Body of Christ, see 1 Corinthians 12:1-12, Romans 12:1-4, and 1 Peter 4:10-11.
To read another devotion on Ephesians 4:1-16, go to Dig Into Words: One
Nancy J. Baker