Why is it that in society today being helpful to others is just a theory, but practically, needing help is perceived as a weakness! In fact, in the corporate world if someone cannot do a task on their own they are considered a liability! Teams become collections of individuals with no sense of teamwork at all. Is it possible that this thinking has invaded the church today? Much to our detriment I fear that it has. is that the way they church is supposed to function? A loosely knit collection of individuals? No, it isn’t…In Ephesians 4:11 – 16 Paul teaches us about the maturity of the body of Christ, how it is to be done, the purpose behind it, and the results.
The letter of Ephesians itself is has two main parts. Chapters 1 – 3 focus on unity in Christ while chapters 4 on focus on unity of the body of Christ.
Verses 11 – 16 are actual one very long sentence in the Greek that contains two subjects:
- The ministry inside the body of Christ
- The maturity that this ministry is to accomplish
Paul outlines three things regarding church maturity: Paul talks about the People involved, the Process involved, and the Product or result desired.
The first thing that Paul outlines for us here with regards to a maturing church is the people involved. In verses 11 – 12 Paul outlines 6 specific individuals or groups of individuals that are part of a maturing church.
First and foremost there is “He” in verse 11, it is He who gave, meaning Christ. Without Christ there is no group, no Church. It is interesting to note how Paul phrased these verses. It doesn’t say that the Church looked inside itself and picked some people to be apostles, prophets, evangelists and so on. It says that Christ GAVE people with specific gifts to the Church. Some of those gifts are gifts of leadership, preaching, teaching, administration and all manner of things to help the church maintain her direction.
So really, instead of 6 specific individuals there are 2, Christ, and the People of God. The point of the specific people is this:
All God’s people have gifts, but more importantly, all of God’s people are the gifts to the Church.
The real gifts that Christ gives to the church is people. Not the ability to teach or comfort or anything else, but people.
God gave, and continues to give, gifts of people to the church. It is those gifts from God and their relationship with Christ that promote the maturation of the church. No amount of programs, preaching, or study will help a church mature without people that are committed to Christ, and each other.
Next time we will continue to study this great passage and look into the process of the maturing church.
Grace & Peace,