I have been studying Ephesians recently and last night I came across this verse:
“…speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” [Ephesians 4:15-16]
There are a lot of verses in the Bible that depict the Church as a body, but I had never read this one. If I had, I had long forgotten it. It stood out to me because it is just so full of stuff to mull over. There is so much to be taken from just these two verses, but I want to look at four points that I took from these verses.
“…when each part is working properly…”
The fellowship of believers is often talked about as a body. Paul uses this illustration briefly in Romans 12 and Colossians 1, and then again, but more in depth, in 1 Corinthians 12. In 1 Corinthians he really explains how completely necessary it is to have every part of the body. “If all were a single member, where would the body be?” He writes.
A body has so many pieces that it needs to function. As the Body of Christ, we need all the parts of His Body to come together and work together. We need each other. Without every unique person and the gifts God has given them, the Body of Christ cannot be fully functional.
Not only do we need each part, but each part must be “working properly.” This means that we are called to be uplifting and encouraging to one another. We must pursue God individually and we must grow with each other. If we are in Christ, we will grow spiritually, and we will be “working properly.”
“…grow up in every way…”
God provides these ways in which we grow. We don’t have to come up with ways to pursue God and become closer to Him. He gives us so many blessings that connect us with Him in real and deep ways – His Word, fellowship with other Christians (church, youth group, Bible studies), prayer, service to others, communion, baptism – the list is endless, really. Everything good on this earth is a gift from God to us, to draw us near to Him. He created this universe for us, to reveal Himself to us. God is pursuing us every second of our lives, and He desires for us to pursue Him in return.
“…into him who is the head, into Christ…”
Not only are we to grow, but we are to grow in a specific direction – into Christ. We are not called to grow in our own happiness or selfish desires; we are not called to grow to self-enlightenment or by any of the world’s standards and expectations. God has a direction, a path, set before us, and that is to grow into and become more like Christ every day. If we partake in the blessings that God has given us, we will grow into Him. 2 Peter 1:3-8 says,
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
If we partake in God’s blessings and promises and do not push them away, we will have all these qualities. We will not live ineffective lives. We will grow deeper and deeper in our faith with Christ, and it will bless the world. The Church will “build itself up in love” and share that love with others who are still lost in the darkness of sin and Satan’s lies.
“…from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped…”
At the center of it all is Christ. He is our rock and our foundation. He is the joint and sinew that holds the Church, His body, together. He makes all this possible. We don’t have to worry. He has provided so much for us to grow closer to Him. He is sovereign over our lives, and we belong to Him. God has set before you a beautiful journey in which you are made new and continuously refined. God is pulling you nearer and nearer to Him so that your heart will reflect His heart. He has provided an effective life for you to live so that through Him, you may bless others with the freedom and truth of the gospel.