Monday, July 20, 2020

Growing Up in Christ (Ephesians 4:11-16)

"Then we will not 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 men in their deceitful scheming" (Ephesians 4:14).

Paul has made the point that the ascended Christ takes from His spoil of humanity and transforms some people into special gifts to help build His kingdom on earth. Elsewhere Paul makes it clear that each of us is a gift to the church, but here in Ephesians 4:11–13 he focuses on those who are to be leaders in the community of the faithful. They are gifts given to the church to prepare all of us for service, so that the church may be built up as a glorious palace for the King.

Because the church is one, united in Christ, there is a corporate aspect to the growth of the church. Paul says that “we all” are to reach unity in the faith, and “we all” are to become mature. When this happens, “we” will no longer be infants, tossed to and fro by waves of silly false doctrines. But this maturation is a process that takes place over a long span of time.

In the life of the individual believer there is to be a growth toward maturity. This cannot happen if we are rebellious against the authorities God has placed in the church. American Christians in particular seem to be individualistic and rebellious against authority, especially in the church, but God tells us in Hebrews 13:17, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden.”

There is no such thing as solo Christianity. It is a sin not to be covenanted as a member of a particular church. It is a sin not to be in submission to God’s appointed overseers. If we are to grow and not remain unstable infants, we must be under the leadership of those God has given for this purpose.

More generally, however, whole local churches also grow in maturity (“we all”). Whole communities mature and increase in the riches of wisdom, moving away from unstable preoccupations with emotional experiences and developing an appreciation for the deeper aspects of the truth of God. Similarly, the entire Christian church on earth is maturing throughout history and will continue to mature until she is fit for her Lord.

Perhaps you have some maturity as a Christian. Perhaps the immaturity of some people bothers you, and you might feel they hinder the church. This may be true, but because we are one body we must stick together. Review Ephesians 4:1–6 in the light of today’s lesson and make application to your life.