Growing and Building Together

5m | May 19, 2024

In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he famously lists the essential offices that leaders carry in churches under his care – people who serve as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Their purpose? “To equip his people for works of service, 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.”

God wants his people to be mature in their faith, full of Christ, equipped for every task, “Built up”.

The apostle continues: “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. 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” (Eph 4: 11 – 16)

I want you to notice that although we rightly celebrate and honour the role of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers as they equip us to serve God, mould us towards unity and increase our knowledge of Jesus, the responsibility for growth also lies on us.

Paul tells us we can grow by speaking the truth to each other in love, and we can grow by building up one another in love. Paul sees growth as a together activity. Within a community that is soaked in love.

Like a human body, the parts of Christ’s body cannot exist on their own. We are joined to each other, “held together by every supporting ligament”. We grow in our faith as a unity. Together. Together in love.

The body of Christ “grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work”. I can convince myself that I am growing in my faith as I study Scriptures on my own. That is an important part of my day, but if I only read God’s Word in solitude, I don’t hear the insights of those who are different to me. I miss the joy of seeing a verse impact a friend in a new way, and I’ll lose the benefit of a brother’s Godly challenge as he speaks the truth in love.

I can try to be brave as I face life’s challenges, seeking the Lord for help, waiting for His promises to come to pass. But on my own will never be enough. There will always be something missing. As God’s children, we are joined, held together, which means my tears become your tears and your sorrows become mine. The new creation of God’s people under Christ as the head, and shepherded by his appointed leaders, still needs to “build itself up in love, as each part does its work”.

Building and growing is not a solo activity in the New Testament. It requires the challenge of sharing my life with others; opening up when I’d rather face the darkness alone. Finding the work Christ wants me to do to strengthen his body in the place where he has called me to serve alongside others. 

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