In my continuing reflections, we have notice how in the first three chapters of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians has described what God has done for us in Christ. In chapter four, Paul turned the corner to begin to highlight what should be our appropriate response in light of what God has done for us in Christ.
Paul calls his readers to exhibit habits of unity (humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance and love), then he sets before them the basis of unity, ultimately rooted in the unified nature of God:
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4–6 NRSV).
From this point, the apostle explores the anticipated outcome of this unity: that believers in Jesus will grow into the “full stature of Christ” (Eph 4: 13) or stated another way, that we would grow to look more like Jesus with every passing day.
In Ephesians 4:7-16, Paul observes that God has given every Christian a “gracing” so that “Christ-ness,” so to speak, is shared among each member of the body of Christ.
More so, God has given special gifts to the church in the form of those called by him to lead. These leaders include apostles, prophets, evangelist, pastors and teachers—however, there is no reason to think this is some exhaustive list, as we know of other functional leaders in the church, such as deacons (servants) and preachers.
More important than what these leaders are called is their purpose—which is at cross-purposes with what is generally expected of church leaders today. God give to church leaders to equip God’s people to do the people’s ministry.
Thus, the ministry of leaders is to empower members in the pursuit of their ministry. This only makes sense if we see every Christian as having a ministry. However, to be sure, there are different “levels” of ministry. After all, leaders here have a specialized ministry to equip the body of Christ.
This equipping, though, also has a particular outcome: “for the building up of the Body of Christ.” This work is ongoing until, according to Paul,
all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ (Ephesians 4:13 NRSV).
So legitmate Christian ministry results in all of us growing up! And, as we grow up, we will become more like Jesus. And, as we grow up, we participate in the body of Christ in a way that promotes health. And as we grow up, we understand that each of us have a part to play as we build one another up in love.
We are truly in this together.