Focal Passage: Ephesians 4:11-16
Church members need one another in order to grow in Christ. Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his classic book Life Together stresses the importance of community: “Let him who is not in community beware of being alone. Into the community you were called, the call was not meant for you alone; in the community of the called you bear your cross, you struggle, you pray.”
Our passage this week begins in verse 11, where we learn that the “He” is Christ (v. 7), who has gifted those in His body with specific callings – apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers – for a specific purpose. They are to use their gifts to equip the saints for the work of ministry (v. 12). It’s important to note that the Greek word for “ministry” in this verse is diakonias. (Other translations may render it “service” because of the root word, diakoneo, which means to serve or to minister). It may be tempting, at first glance, to take the view of “leave it to the professionals; to those in vocational ministry.” Especially for someone who reads the specific callings and thinks, “Okay, that doesn’t include me [sigh of relief].” Well, actually it does.
The original language shows us Christ has gifted what we would deem as “leaders” [or even “professionals”] in the church to equip us to do ministry. That’s also the purpose Paul has given for the specific giftings.
Not only does he give a purpose for the various callings, Paul also lists reasons for our works of service – so the body of Christ may build up to maturity, to complete unity and into the fullness of Christ (v. 12-13). We are to strive and support each other as we grow toward spiritual maturity.
The last portion of our passage emphasizes the need for teamwork with the use of the first person plural, “we are to grow up” (v. 15). We are supporting ligaments, dependent on one another to grow and build up the body into Him who is the Head, Christ. Are you in community with other believers? Are you viewing your ministry with the purpose Paul outlines in this passage? Name three people in your life who God has used to equip you. Then list three people who you can minister to and support in their journey toward spiritual maturity.