“But speaking the truth in love, 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.”
~Ephesians 4:15-16 (NRSV).
Abundant strength in all departments, any good team has few (if any) weak links. It is not a complement of stars, but a star complement.
The giver of gifts — the Father of Lights (James 1:17) — has apportioned gifting for each one in the Body of Christ: an entity for the glorification of God here on earth and the worship of God in heaven. Those individual gifts must complement the overall sortie-of-grace or God isn’t glorified and the mission of the Church is diminished.
Awkwardness of Maintaining a Functioning Body
The older I get the more I realise the aches and pains of the physical body, though my lower back was much worse twenty years ago than it is now.
Notwithstanding, we injure ourselves and deal with niggles all the time. If it’s not a sore neck then we have a digestive problem, or we’re depressed, or we have limited use of another part of our bodies. It can seem a massive task just getting the body to the starting line at times.
At any one time there is at least one thing wrong with my body; no sooner do I ‘welcome’ the newest ailment, the old one gone I’m thankful for, praying it won’t revisit me.
In much the same way issues and contentions mount up against the Body of Christ. Links of any chain come under surprising sudden strain. They contend against the body’s maturity.
The Body’s Growth to/in Maturity
Just like the physical body — which is governed in certain ways by the mind (beyond external limitations) — the Body of Christ is governed by the Spirit of God.
The purpose of both bodies is to function — efficiently and with effect.
Through the select and grace-apportioned use of gifts, the Body of Christ is honed and hopefully poised to glorify God here on earth to the very heights of the will of God. Per the physical body setting itself to run life’s race, everything is prepared and all risks are to be mitigated. Both are wisdom activities... like running in machine-like unison.
Maturity is the hope for the realisation of optimisation. In other words, when life turns real we want a body fit for duty — one that can attend to both the diversity of the task (using all the body parts or gifts required) and task specifics.
The body serves us (and the Body, the Lord) and not the other way around. Additionally, the individual body part serves the overall body, and the disciple with their gift serves the Body of Christ, not the other way around. But there are also times when the larger part (the body/Body) ministers to the smaller as a parent helps a child.
Speaking the truth in love is the very manifestation of the mature Body’s modus operandi. It’s a key sign that the Body is fit for the task God gives it.
It is most important that the Church attains and maintains the fullness of Christ these very ways. Each of us has a key role; to exercise our gifts and our overall way, maturely.
© 2011 S. J. Wickham.