Peace, Love, Tandem

“God intends for us to play an active and vital part in the body of Christ, the local church. He wants us to experience the local church as a home more profoundly wonderful and meaningful than any other place on earth. He intends for his churches to be healthy places and for the members of those churches to be healthy as well.” Thabiti Anyawile. This quote from “What Is A Healthy Church Member” by Thabiti Anyawile, is one reason why I used it as the drawing for the start of an Ephesians Bible study I once led.

Every individual as part of the Bride of Christ has a vital role within the Body. No member is less or more important than the other. Each must work cohesively, uniformly, and in tandem with each other in order for the Body to move, live and grow. Paul has been teaching, or more like cramming into, the church members at Ephesus how one’s identity is now found within Christ in the first three chapters. They no longer have individual identities outside of him as they (we) now belong to Christ. Chapters 4-6 are the outward expressions of sanctification that has been bestowed upon them as they move, live and grow (verse 16). I liken the last three chapters as ‘Equipping Chapters’ but all three centers around service.

Paul urges in Ephesians 4:1 to, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” In verse two he expresses to carry out the walk, “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.” These verses are crucial to the HOW to walk worthy of our calling in Christ. Humility is not easy to live out. Remember though our Savior left Heaven for us and even washed feet. Gentleness is not any easier… especially if you were brought up with a sibling. But remember our Lord allowed the little children to come up to him, and showed great kindness to twelve men that fought amongst themselves as to who would be the greatest. Bearing – well that means getting oneself into the fray of another’s life. And to do it in love. Hmmmm. Service? Giving of yourself to another? To love another means you become vulnerable. Open. Honest. Yoking yourself to another in order to carry their burden just as if it was yours. Sound familiar. Sounds like community.

In studying this section of Scripture out, some commentators centered around verses 11–13 on the gifts God gave to the Body of Christ. But I want to push back and view those equipping ministries in the context of the book. Being microscopic on just those verses, and their counterparts in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, can make one out of step with the whole Body of Christ. Not to mention legalism and infighting can erupt as to whom or group of whoms has those gift(s). You can’t ride tandem while infighting! By viewing chapter four as ‘Equipping the Church’ you can then move into chapter five and the first part of six as ‘Equipping the Home’. The remainder of chapter six would be ‘Equipping the Individual’. In order to lose one’s self-identity you must see yourself in the whole of the community – hence the larger Body of Christ. WAIT, how can you view yourself in the larger Body of Christ yet equip yourself? When you view yourself as part of the whole you take better attention to be personally prepared as the impact affects the entire Body. One should live with Titus 2 in mind.

I think verse 15, “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ”, is obtained by using the armor listed in chapter six. True it speaks of being a mature adult in Christ, feasting on the meat of the word instead of the milk, but one can only become mature by delving into the word of God. 2 Timothy 3:17 speaks of being, “profitable… that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” This implies women as well (see 2 Timothy 1:5). For in using the word of God rightly can we perform verse 16, “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.” In order to grow one must become equipped, and in order to become equipped one must love outside themselves.

…and Ephesians 4:1-16 is the other reason I used Thabiti Anyawile’s book, “What Is A Healthy Church Member”. For more on love and the body of Christ, read 1 Corinthians 13 and Galatians 5.

Today at church, my Pastor continued in preaching a sermon series called, “For the Love of God”. He referenced Jesus healing the paralyzed man let down through the roof of the house he was in while speaking to a mass of people. This is found in three of the Gospel accounts, but my Pastor read from Luke 5:17-39. He then quoted Dr. Timothy Keller, “Love, Christian love, is more miraculous than miracles.” These people had just heard the Son of God forgive sins, yet they could only focus on the miracle they had seen. Let that sink in.

Grace and peace, James

  • Scripture from ESV, Crossway Publishers, 2001
  • ”What is a Healthy Church Member” by Thabiti Anyawile, 9Marks, 2008
  • ”Better Than Love” sermon by Dr. Timothy Keller, former Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Manhatten, NY, 2012
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