11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, - Ephesians 4:11-13
We now understand from studying this passage that we are the ones who should be building up the body of Christ, and the rest of the verse tells us what that looks like - until we all attain unity in faith and knowledge. This verse stresses that we should not be so focused on ourselves as individuals, but unity is about the church as a whole. And we should keep at it until everyone attains unity in faith and knowledge. Everyone. Don’t settle in to your comfort zone - that’s a lot of people.
Far too often, we are consumers in church and small group - it's easy to get caught in the trap of attending church or small group, or even getting into the Word on a daily basis because it makes 'me' feel better. We have people pray for us when we struggle because it makes us feel better, we hang with Sisters in Christ because they encourage us. All those things are good things if done for the right reasons. If our motivation is focused on ourselves, if we are consumer Christians, if we do this Christian life because it makes us feel good about ourselves or it encourages us when we're down, then we're doing it for the wrong reason. We’ve missed the point of this verse.
Living out the Christian faith is not about continuing to build my faith or understanding, the Christian faith is about building unity in faith and knowledge in the church - building everyone's faith and knowledge, not just our own. We're not focused on others when we are consumers. We're focused on us.
The question prompted by these verses is 'What are you doing specifically to grow the faith and knowledge others in the church?' So, for example, a desire to grow in knowledge through study is a good thing - but that simply builds our own understanding. Taking those new understandings and teaching them to others - that's building the church in unity of faith and knowledge.
Another example - you've been encouraged by your small group, so you've grown in faith and knowledge - how are you using that to build the body of Christ in faith and knowledge? When was the last time you invited someone to small group? If you’ve been a small group member for awhile, is it time to consider apprenticeship? Take the next step.
An important phrase to note in this passage is also 'the body of Christ.' While it is important to continue our work to evangelize to those who are not believers in our lives, this verse specifically reminds us that our work is meant to be for believers - we are to teach those who already believe in Christ so that they may grow in their faith and knowledge. Those of us who are mature in our knowledge and understanding should be out there training up the next generation. In case you are wondering, you are a mature believer if God has shown up and taught you a lesson or two. That's the work of a believer - to continue to use what God has revealed to you to teach others. I just love every time Pastor James returns to a passage he has preached on before, he challenges us with the question, "who have you taught this message to since the last time we were here?"
So, who are you teaching in the body of Christ? Not in your home - out there in the body of believers. It’s time we take the next step.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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