Geared Up for Life - Continued
While the first half of Ephesians has a big-picture spiritual WHY focus, the second half of the letter focuses on practical applications and the HOW. Paul has worked to develop the theme of unity in Ephesians 1-3. Now he explains how that unity can be achieved starting in chapter 4.
He talks about the elements we Christians all have in common. Then he explains how even different spiritual gifts work together to produce a mature body of believers through the Holy Spirit.
We pick up the last part of our scripture from the end of August in Ephesians 4: "But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it." (Ephesians 4:7)
Once Paul has established the groundwork for the unity of the church, he goes on to explain the diversity within the body: The spiritual gifts Christ has given cannot be counted. They can be classified into types and categories. But there are varieties even then. For example, we serve a God who has created categories of trees — oaks, pines, palms — but within these broad categories we see individual species. Some trees grow well on sandy soil. Others struggle to grow in the crevices of granite outcroppings. Some are tall, others are broader, and still others have long branches.
Spiritual gifts are no different. God has made human beings wonderfully diverse. There are different factors like our physical build, temperament, how we were raised, our birth order, artistic, intellectual, and language ability, our emotional sensitivity, our spiritual aptitude, talents, skills, and abilities.
Then Paul talks in Ephesians 4:11-16 that the purpose of pastors and leaders is to develop ministry: “It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up" (Ephesians 4:11-12)
In other words, the job of pastors, teachers, and other ministers is to equip, prepare, and train the believers so they can learn to function in their own ministries. This is the way that the church is built up; not by the leaders doing everything themselves, but by the leaders equipping the rest of the community at Nolensville First to function in their own ministries.
We succeed in becoming a healthier congregation when we equip and move into motivating, training, and deploying the people in our pews in a variety of ministries according to the gifts of each member, all of whom bring strength and depth to the ministry of the Body as a whole, and which bring about the maturity of the Body.
Then the purpose of ministry is to develop maturity; Paul says: “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.” (Ephesians 4:13)
Look at the description of the healthy, mature church that is talked about in verse 13 and the following verses:
· Unity in the faith and in the knowledge of Jesus (13a)
· Attaining to the fullness of Christ (13b)
· Speaking the truth in love (15a)
· Growing up into Christ, the Head of the Body (15b)
· An infrastructure of joined and supporting bones, ligaments, and muscles, which can then support (16a)
· Sustained bodily growth (16b)
· Sustained development of increased strength and new infrastructure as needed (16c)
· With each part of the body doing its work (16d)
When this begins to take shape, we will not be "infants" who are tossed and blown about and manipulated. Then people will not be deceiving each other with surface-level stuff or "tell it like it is" bluntness which blows the other person away. Instead, we'll be "speaking the truth," but also speaking it "with love." They have to go together and often they do not. Honesty with tenderness and compassion will build Christ's church.
The last phrase of this passage, "as each part does its work" (v. 16d), really brings us back to where we started. The job of the leaders at every level is to equip each part to do its work. Ultimately, each one of us as a member must commit ourselves to giving our time and energy to the gifts and ministries God has given each of us.
Very soon our Serving Opportunities (Time & Talent) will be available to see where it is that God is calling you to serve and live out your calling with the God-given gifts entrusted to you. When we can get this right, we will be well on our way to effectiveness of ministry and maturity at multiple levels.
But it requires each one of us to discover our own ministries and begin to practice them effectively ("so that the body of Christ may be built up") and diligently ("as each part does its work").
Are you ready to build up the Body of Christ? There is so much we can do together.
Blessings in Christ,