We stopped last time at Ephesians 4:13 with a focus on unity and maturity; a plea for growing in Christ together. The apostle Paul continues in verse 14, “As a result [a result of growing together], we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Eph 4:14).
One picture of a “growing in Christ” community is a community of conviction and balance. Conviction is an unwavering adherence to the primary doctrines of Christ. Our community faith is grounded in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is built on the foundation of Jesus and the apostles’ teaching. And this foundation protects us from being “carried away by every wind of doctrine and the trickery of men.”
Our convictions, held in community, are also balanced. Left to our own whims, personalities, inclinations, and extremes, we can easily go off into doctrinal fads. We can jump off and on both theological and practical living bandwagons according to what seems most popular or interesting at the time. But in community, we find a balance that keeps us on a straight path.
So instead of straying in belief or practice, “We, speaking the truth in love, are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Eph 4:15-16).
Wow! What a summary of growing up together! Christ is the head. We are the body; in Christ and empowered by Christ in us. The whole body is “fitted and held together” – fully functioning as it should – “by that which every joint [every believer] supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part.”
This is you and me! We are the “individual working parts”. No part is insignificant. Every part has value. No part is allowed to languish on the sidelines. The body needs you. The body needs us all!
I love the phrase “fitted and held together by that which every [believer] supplies”. We just returned from our daughter’s wedding outside Houston Texas. Prior to the event, there was a lot of “fitting and held together”. A bride in a perfectly fitted wedding dress. Parents in suits and dresses specific to the occasion. Grandchildren in matching flower girl dresses, dresses for a special music appearance, and young ring bearers looking dapper in matching bowties and suspenders. A pastor, a groom, groomsmen, and bridesmaids all beautifully dressed for their part. And a sharply dressed grandson escorting his Nana down the aisle.
All that fitting together presented a snapshot of a completed picture. If any of the 30 folks referred to above had shown up in a tee shirt and jeans, something would have been off in the picture. Each had a “uniform” that was fitting and supplied what was needed to complete the picture.
You have a “uniform”. Your uniform of good works, your uniform of exercising your gifts for the benefit of the body, your uniform of encouraging fellow believers all contribute to “the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” Not only do they contribute, but your gifts and participation are desperately needed.
The passage ends with the simple words “in love”. Love is, of course, the driver behind this whole growing together enterprise, and a topic for another time.