Grow Up: The Knowledge That Leads to Unity and Growth

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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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.

Ephesians 4:11

In yesterday's post, we focused on "the faith that leads to unity and growth." Today, we will attend to the next phrase in Ephesians 4:13: "until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God." What sort of knowledge leads to the unity and growth of the people of God?

The Greek word translated in 4:13 as "knowledge" is epignosis, a variation on the basic Greek word gnosis, with which it shares a common meaning. Epignosis of Jesus Christ entails knowing certain things about him, such as the fact that he is "the Son of God," a Jewish royal title that comes to represent Christ's unique nature as one who is both fully God and fully human. If we are to have authentic epignosis of Jesus, we can't simply make it up. Nor ought we to pick and choose from among the many things that Jesus is. Epignosis of Jesus would not, for example, allow us to say, "Well, I believe that Jesus is a fine teacher, but surely not the divine Son of God." Epignosis of Jesus is grounded in the truth of who he really is, a truth revealed through his life, through the confession of the church, and most of all through Scripture.

But, the biblical understanding of knowledge is not limited to thinking. As you may recall, Scripture uses the verb "to know" as a way of talking about sexual intimacy between married people. Knowledge of another person is far more than knowing certain truths about that person. Thus, in Philippians 3:10 Paul writes, "I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in death." Of course, when he penned these words, Paul already knew that Christ was the Son of God. He already knew that God had raised Jesus from the dead, finishing the work of salvation. Paul did not need to know more facts about Jesus and his resurrection. Rather, he yearned to know Christ more truly, more deeply, more intimately, more immediately.

Thus, the knowledge that helps God's people grow is centered in the truth of who Jesus Christ is. It is knowledge in the form of affirmations, such as "I believe in Jesus Christ, [God's] only Son, our Lord." Yet, this knowledge is also profoundly relational. It isn't just knowing about the Son of God. It is knowing Jesus the Son of God, being in relationship with him by grace through faith. Our unity and our growth in Christ comes, therefore, when we know the truth about Jesus and when, in light of this truth, we know him personally and walk with him each day as our friend, Lord, and Savior.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What does it mean to you to know Jesus as the Son of God? What helps you to know Christ in a personal way? What helps you to grow in your relationship with him?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, help me to know what is true about you and to believe it with all of my heart.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, help me to know you intimately, personally, as one with whom I share my heart, as a companion on my journey each day.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, may your church be growing and united as we know you fully and as we invite others into relationship with you. Amen.

Image courtesy of Laity Lodge Youth Camp, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.