October 2, 2020
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.
What is the role of the body of Christ? In short, we are commanded to go into the world and make disciples. It’s the last thing Jesus said to his disciples before he ascended into heaven. If you’ve ever left children in the care of a babysitter or sent a child off to camp, the final parting words are often the most important. My oldest son went on a road trip with a high school friend, and as they were pulling away, his friend’s mother said, “Just remember. Don’t take a life, don’t make a life. See you when you get back.” Parting words tend to be the things we most want someone to remember.
Ephesians 4 gives us instructions on one of the ways we are to obey Jesus’s parting words, “go and make disciples.” If we are all doing our part, we will see the body of Christ grow (ie. more disciples made) in love. I had the unfortunate opportunity to watch the first presidential debate this week. As one talking head said after the debate, “It seems like both men lost the debate tonight.” What was supposed to be a civil discussion about ideas and policies devolved into name calling, interrupting, and accusations. Are we, as the Church, any different? I’m in personal communication with several churches that are in the midst of power struggles, conflict, and a breaking of relationship. Often our conversations in and about the church are marked by gossip and judgement. I’ve personally been guilty of engaging in shouting matches with fellow Christians. How could this possibly be the body Paul speaks of?
Further, how can we ever expect to go and make disciples if we can’t even manage to get along with each other? Who is the last person you had a destructive conflict with? I ask specifically about destructive conflict, because well managed conflict can be incredibly constructive. But destructive conflict pushes us further apart and stunts the growth of the body of Christ. Who is the last person you had that type of conversation with? Think of them, say their name, and hold their image in your head. Now, ask God how he sees that person, and how you can help them see themselves more like God sees them. By doing so, we can take the first step towards becoming the people of God, the body of Christ, that Paul spoke about in Ephesians 4.