“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” – Ephesians 4:11-14
How many times have you heard people declare that they don’t need to belong to a church to be a Christian? There is some truth in their statement, as well as much error. The only requirement for becoming a child of God is faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Lord calls individuals into relationship with himself, first and foremost. However, he did not design us to remain alone and independent. He created us to live in relationship with the body of Christ.
Yesterday, we considered the different gifts the Lord distributes to his people, gifts that equip them to serve the church in various and complementary ways. The Lord’s plan is for his children to use those gifts to support and strengthen one another. Some will share the Gospel and lead new believers to Christ; others will teach the ways of the Lord. Some will exhort through words of prophecy; others will nurture and comfort in times of need. As we read yesterday, no one receives all gifts, and no one is called to serve in every capacity. We are to come together and share our gifts for our mutual benefit.
Why? So that our faith can grow and mature! So that we do not remain gullible or naïve. The enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10), so we must remain on guard against his mischievous ways. When we feel discouraged, we can invite the prophet to pray and speak. When we feel immature in our understanding of Scripture, we can invite the teacher to elaborate and instruct. For every instance in our lives, God provides people within his body to minister to us. Ultimately, the Lord longs for us to look to him. Yet, he also knows that we need each other, for that is how he designed us.
God calls you and me to continue growing in our faith. It is a lifelong journey that requires participating in the body of Christ, giving of our gifts, and receiving from others. If you find yourself flailing in your faith, talk to the Lord and talk to his people. Through his lavish distribution of gifts, we can receive what we need to faithfully walk through every season, every trial, and every opportunity that comes in this life.
Reflect and Respond:
Take a few minutes to consider if you are truly growing in spiritual maturity right now. How might the Lord be calling you to draw closer to the body of Christ for this season? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the Living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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