Summary: Blessed by God and anointed by the Holy Spirit the Church--the Body of Christ--is called to develop its strength, coordination and endurance in order to lovingly and boldly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Ephesians 4:1-16 “Team Work”
Once we got past the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics, with the Queen skydiving out of a helicopter and Mr. Bean playing with the London Symphony, our focus has been on the athletes. We had been awed by their strength, coordination and endurance, and we have been amazed at what they can get their bodies to do.
Believe it or not, God envisions that his Church—the body of Christ—will become a body like that of an Olympic athlete: strong and coordinated, with the ability to endure. This may be a little difficult for us to imagine, but let’s hear what Paul writes to the Christians in Ephesus.
In verse 15 and 16 Paul writes, “We must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.”
As we, the body of Christ, grow up into Christ, who is the head, we need strength. Paul exhorts the Christians at Ephesus to not allow themselves to be “tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine.” In other words, it is important for us to be strong in our convictions. What are some of the beliefs in which we need to be strong?
• Jesus Christ is God incarnate—God shed his godliness, became one of us and dwelt among us.
• The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, restores our relationship with God, gives us victory over sin, death and the devil, and exemplifies that type of life God desires in his people.
• God is a God of grace. We are saved by grace through faith. It is a gift.
• God is a God of love. God is for us and not against us.
• Life lived in a relationship with God is the greatest life that we can live—it is what we were created for.
Strength is important, but if the person is not coordinated that strong person will use his or her strength only to keep getting up when he or she has fallen. Clumsy people are not Olympic athletes.
The church is coordinated by its variety of gifts. Paul writes in verse 11 that some people have been called to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. This is not an exhaustive list. God has called us into his family, and God has given us a calling—a place and opportunity to use our specific gifts and talents.
Every one of us has talents and abilities. Each one of us has been called to use those talents and abilities. I believe that it is safe to say, if you are not involved, if you haven’t volunteered to use your gifts and talents, you have ignored God’s call, and are missing out on a vital part of living as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
In another way, you are harming the body of Christ. Paul writes in his letter to the Corinthians that we are like a body (1 Corinthians). Some are feet, others arms, ears and mouths. You know what it’s like to have a part of your body fall asleep and go numb. It doesn’t work and your body doesn’t function right. When members of the congregation don’t volunteer to serve, the church—congregation--body can’t be the Olympian body that it was created to be.
There are literally hundreds and thousands of opportunities use our gifts and talents to serve.
• Bake a casserole for someone in need, or crochet a prayer shawl
• Teach our children or mentor our youth
• Care for Moppets during a MOPS meeting
• Visit someone who is sick, write a note to someone you have missed, or make that phone call that you’ve felt you should make for the last couple of days
• Volunteer to help out at the Lutheran Thrift Shop,
• Set-up or Take-down our equipment on Sunday morning
• Help a neighbor in need, or participate in a fund raising event for a charity
Involvement is a vital part of becoming the body God wants us to become.
Of course a person can be strong and coordinated, but if he or she doesn’t have any endurance, then they won’t go very far and they won’t win the race. As body of Christ, it is important for us to endure.
Paul writes about endurance in verses 1-3 when he talks about living in humility, bearing one another in love, and striving for unity.
One of the things that I love about the Lutheran Church is that (unlike some congregations and denominations) we don’t need to believe, think and act identically. We can be different. But it is a challenge being different. It is necessary for us to acknowledge our differences and respect each other. Stressing our unity—that we are people of one Lord, one faith, one baptism rather than our differences is essential.