Meditations: Ephesians 4:16

Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014
Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014

Ephesians 4:16
NIV

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.

 

Christ’s body, like our bodies, consists of many parts, and God created each part to serve a purpose; I Corinthians discusses this at length. A friend once told me that she had discovered what part she was – Christ’s nose hair. She said it laughingly, but a brief anatomy study reveals that, in a way, she was right. Nose hair acts as a filter, preventing that which is unacceptable from entering the body. This woman has tremendous discernment and walks in spiritual authority at a level beyond that to which most Christians would aspire. When demons have been known to tremble in your presence, you do help to protect the body from unwanted entry.

Each of us is called by God to serve a unique purpose, to fill a position in His body – in the local church. I Corinthians 12:18-20 says, “But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” There are many parts – many of us, the individuals who make up the body of Christ – and each part is both uniquely necessary and necessarily unique. Just as God did not create the human body with nothing but eyes, tongues and hands, He did not create the body of Christ with only pastors, choir members and ushers. No, the body of Christ (and each local church body) is made up of many parts, many people. Us.

But it is not enough to acknowledge that we are each a part of the body. No, we must also discover which part of the body we are. Note, I do not say we must decide which part we are. No indeed, for I Cor 12:18 states clearly that, “But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.” (emphasis mine) God has a unique plan for each one of us and it is our responsibility to seek Him and find out what that plan is. If we presume to decide for ourselves what function we will fill in the body of Christ, we make a gross mistake. Just as an elbow does not have the option of deciding it would rather be a hand, we do not have the option of changing our God-given assignments.

Over the years, I have repeatedly witnessed the results of this very thing, people attempting to choose their own assignments rather than seeking God’s direction. The music ministry is typical; many people join the choir not because God has called them to that position, but because it is where they want to be. Fortunately, most of these misplaced members eventually realize they have put themselves into the wrong position and, hopefully, move on to the place of God’s calling. How much easier would church life have been on them if they had gone straight to God for their assignments instead of telling Him where they had chosen to place themselves? Indeed, how much better would it have been on the choir and music ministry if they had not put themselves where they were not called to be…and how much easier on the ministry that had anxiously awaited their arrival? An elbow that tried to be a hand would create a multitude of problems; one who is called to be an usher, yet tries to be a nursery worker, can do the same.

Yes, it is imperative that each of us, as members of the body of Christ in general and our local church bodies in particular, find out where God has called us to fit in and GET THERE. My place, for 28 years, was in the music ministry. I served wherever the head of my ministry asked me to serve, from choir loft to church office, and I will dare say that I filled my spot well. I have, in the past, likened myself to a ball bearing, the part that makes everything run smoothly while remaining, itself, unseen. Looking at my reference verse, I suppose I would say that I fell into the, “held together by every supporting ligament” category because ligaments are absolutely necessary for the proper running of the body, supporting everything from their unseen position. Interestingly enough, it occurs to me that they are also nurtured and sheltered there, protected by all the visible things that cover them.

Had I ever wanted to be one of those visible parts? Of course! I have an ego and fight pride like everyone else. Like many who love to sing and end up joining a church choir, I had my moments of wanting to be a front line member (one of those few who are on the main stage), but the main platform was not my called position. Understanding this, I chose to put down the flesh whenever it would raise this topic. Interestingly enough, long after I conquered my flesh in this area, God arranged for me to fill in as a front line member for one service. Had I cherished any lingering thoughts of the main platform they would have been squashed flat that night. Everyone said I did well enough, but like an elbow trying to be a hand I felt grossly out of place. Dear God, never again…please.

Today I am on staff at the church, so my position has changed dramatically. No longer in the music ministry, I run our coffee shop and Info Table instead, but I am still a supporting ligament, still just doing my best to keep things moving smoothly and with excellence. I love being where God has called me to be!

…grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

 Ephesians 4:14 begins, “Then we will no longer be infants…” and verse 15 says, “…we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.” This whole passage, Eph 4:14-16, talks about us maturing, growing up and refusing to remain babies. Any pastor will tell you sadly that there are too many spiritual babies in the body of Christ, too many spiritual babies in his church. Verse 16 reveals one of the great evidences, an obvious indicator of whether one is a mature or immature (baby) Christian.

…grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

The emphasis, of course, is mine.

According to this Scripture, the growth, the maturity, the building up in love comes as each part does its work. Not only must each part of the body of Christ and, obviously, the local church body, work (which is a rare enough thing in most churches), but each must do its work – not that of another part (someone else’s work). Each of us is a part of the whole body and every one of us has God-given work assignments. Only when we walk in submission to Him and do the works that He assigns do we really grow and build ourselves up in love. Furthermore, only when we each do our own work does the body grow and build itself up in love. When we fail, the body fails; if I, as a supporting ligament, choose not to do my assigned work, all that I support is hindered, handicapped and slowed in its growth.

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C

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Meditations: Luke 11:23

Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014
Copyright Clarissa Pardue 2014

Luke 11:23

NLT

Anyone who isn’t helping me opposes me, and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.

 

I like this translation. We’ve probably all heard, “He who is not for me is against me” – possibly so many times that we only give mental assent to the truth and move on. But…

This is a vital verse for those who think to sit on the fence; it makes it crystal clear that there is no fence. It is even more essential that the import of Luke 11:23 be grasped by those who religiously attend church services every Sunday morning, arrogantly thinking that in merely attending a church service they have completed their Christian responsibility. Jesus says otherwise.

“Anyone who isn’t helping me opposes me…” Can He express it more simply than this? If I think I can merely sit in my padded pew and do nothing to help Jesus expand His kingdom, if I think I can ignore the Great Commission that was given to each of us, I am in gross error. I am also in opposition to Jesus. There is no passively sitting and doing nothing; Jesus says that if we do not actively help Him, we actively oppose Him.

“…and anyone who isn’t working with me is actually working against me.” Here He speaks even more strongly and more clearly. Yes, He honestly does expect us to work. He expects us to go into all the world and preach the gospel (Mark 16:15) and, in the local church body, He expects us to be fitly joined together with everyone else, each of us doing our part to supply the needs of the body (Eph 4:16).

What work does He call us to where the church is concerned? Just as it is in the physical body, so it is in a church body – each part supplies what it is designed to offer. In my case, for nearly thirty years this meant serving in the Music Ministry…even after coming on staff full time. The next person may fit in entirely differently, serving in ways that have never occurred to me. The bottom line is that we are both working with Jesus to build up the church and expand the Kingdom of God so that He will not say of us, “They are actually working against me.”

Celebrating Jesus!
Tammy C