Summary: 32nd is a series from Ephesians. Growing into the Head, Jesus Christ, requires us to develop both our vertical relationship with Jesus and our horizontal relationship with other believers.
We all know that a newborn baby can’t hold its head up on its own. The primary reason for that is that a newborn’s head is very large in proportion to the rest of the body. While the adult human skull is about 1/8 of the total body length, the newborn’s head is about 1/4 of its total body length. So, especially early in life, the body has to grow much more rapidly than the head so that they reach the proper proportions as an adult. In fact, by the time we reach 5 years old, our heads are approximately the same size that they will be when we reach adulthood, but our bodies still continue to grow significantly for another 15 years or so.
It seems that Paul may have had that picture in mind as he continues to describe how the body of Christ is to mature in the first half of Ephesians 4. Let’s read our passage out loud together.
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into 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 4:15, 16 (NIV)
The idea of the need for the body of Christ to mature is so important that Paul has been stressing that idea continually, beginning in verse 7. There he began to describe this process where Jesus receives certain of His followers unto Himself so that He can give special gifts of ministry to them and then he turns around and gives them back to the church. He does that so that these gifted people can equip all of God’s people to carry out the work of ministry. Jesus’ purpose is that the entire body might mature and become more like Him. Then in verse 14, Paul takes one of his frequent side trips to show the distinct contrast between His followers who are maturing in their faith and those spiritual infants who are unstable and easily deceived. But now, as Paul often does, he returns to his original premise in order to stress once again the need for the body to mature.
And the picture Paul uses here is the need for the body to grow up into the Head. Just as our human bodies need to grow in order to “catch up” to our heads, those who are spiritually immature also need to grow up in order to match up with the head of the body, Jesus Christ. And in order for that growth to occur, there is both a horizontal and vertical dimension that must be nurtured. Without both our connection to the Head, our vertical relationship with Jesus, and our connection with other believers, the horizontal relationship, we will not be able to grow up into the Head.
HOW TO GROW INTO THE HEAD:
1. The vertical connection – our relationship with Jesus
The first thing we observe in this passage is how crucial our relationship with Jesus is in the process of growth. He is both the goal of our growth and the source of that growth.
• Jesus is the goal of our growth
...we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ...
As we saw in our passage last week and again this morning, the goal of our growth is to become like the Head, Jesus Christ. He is the only standard by which we are to measure our growth. And we are to grow to be like Him, to attain to the measure of His fullness in all things.
It seems that Paul is setting the table here for what he is going to write in the rest of his letter beginning in verse 17 of chapter 4. The “all things” he writes about in our passage includes every area of our lives, and Paul is going to address many of those areas in the rest of his letter:
o Our thought life
o The way we speak to others
o The way we treat others
o Our family life
o Our work life
o Dealing with Satan and his attacks
In every one of those areas of our lives, Jesus is to be the standard by which we measure our maturity. He is the goal of our growth. But at the same time...
• Jesus is the source of our growth
...speaking the truth in love...
This is another Scripture that seems to be taken out of context, and therefore misused, quite often. How many times have you heard someone use this phrase to justify being critical of others? I think the writer of one blog really hit the nail on the head when he wrote: