Grow Up: Practically Speaking, What Does Christ Supply So That We Might Grow Up in Him?Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no 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 people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
In yesterday's reflection, we saw that all spiritual growth, whether of individual Christians or the body of Christ, comes from Jesus Christ. He is the source of our maturity.
But, practically speaking, what does Christ actually supply so that we might grow up in him? If we can answer this question, then we will be better prepared to receive these resources when they are given to us and to seek them in order to grow and also help the church to grow.
If we were to look broadly across the Scriptures, we could come up with a long list of resources that Christ supplies for our growth. Chapter 4 in Ephesians focuses specifically on a few of these resources. First, Christ gives the gifts of what I have called church leaders who equip all of God's people for ministry (4:11-12). When we allow our leaders to teach us, when we encourage them to get us ready for ministry, when we invest in the learning process, then we are receiving Christ's gifts that help both individuals and the church to grow.
Several passages in Ephesians 4 suggest that Christ supplies truth that helps us grow. This is implied by the centrality of prophets and pastor-teachers as equippers (4:11). Moreover, the fact that our growth leads to unity in the knowledge of the Son of God also underscores the extent to which revealed the truth that contributes to our growth (4:13). Verse 15 explains that we will grow up through speaking the truth. This is not a task reserved for the clergy, but something expected of all believers. So, we will grow as Christians, both individually and corporately, when we receive from Christ the truth of the Gospel and its vast implications and when we pass on this truth to others.
Without a doubt, one of the main resources Christ supplies for our growth is his truth. But, remember that Ephesians 4 does not advocate a private "just Jesus and me" Christianity. We don't figure out the truth of Jesus on our own. Rather, the teaching and learning of truth happens in the context of the body of Christ. Thus, the church is one of the major resources Christ gives to foster our growth. You and I cannot become what God intends us to be without deep connection to the church, a connection that involves both receiving and giving. And, as we'll see tomorrow, the church will never be what God intends it to be apart from you and me.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: In what ways do you experience equipping by pastor-teachers in the church? How do you speak the truth in love so that others might grow up in Christ? In what contexts do you receive the truth in love? Are you growing up as a Christian? Why or why not? Is your church growing up in Christ? Why or why not?
PRAYER: Thank you, Lord Jesus, for all that you supply to help your people grow up in you. Thank you, especially, for those who lead us, for our pastor-teachers who equip us for our ministry. Thank you for those who speak the truth in love to us. Thank you for the church, a community in which truth is spoken in love and received in love.
Help me, Lord, to receive all that you give to help me grow up. Help me also to speak the truth in love to my fellow church members, so that we might grow in you. Amen.
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Image courtesy of Laity Lodge Youth Camp, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.