Living and Serving in the Body of Christ: Community (Eph. 4:11-16)
Ephesians 4:11–13: “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 4:12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” In this passage, I want to highlight three important points.
1) We need an authority greater than ourselves - the Gospel. Through the triumph of Jesus (Eph. 4:8), He poured out (pentecost) gifts to vanquish the fallen world (Ps. 68). These gifts are focused on revealing and declaring the Gospel which implies the whole counsel of God’s Word: in its foundational ministry (apostles and prophets), in its extension (evangelists) and in its continuing embodiment (pastors/teachers). Therefore, He gave Word-gifted leaders for the purpose of equipping the saints. “Equipped” (2 Tim. 3:17) means a harmonious development in which all the parts work together.
2) We need a cause greater than ourselves - serving others. The goal of this building-up is maturity in being a new humanity (2:15) which requires unity (4:4-6) and knowledge (4:14-15). We are saved to serve. The “work of service” means every kind of action to which we are called as Christians: sharing, relating, speaking, helping, sacrificing, etc. It requires the employment of spiritual gifts and serving one another in love ((1 Cor. 12, Rom. 12, Gal. 5:13).
3) We need a community outside of ourselves - the Church. We are saved to live in community, like the Triune God. We are to have communion with the saints, a “prelude of heaven.” We are a body. Every member of the body must be part of this or there will be deficiencies in growth. We are all meant to be part of a greater whole. You are not meant to stand alone. We are spiritually incomplete in and of ourselves. The Church is a place all the lonely people, for all the Eleanor Rigby’s of the world. We need to be both known and loved.
Jesus died to re-create a community of renewed people who live like the Triune God in communion with one another. If you are not committed to love, serve and live in such a community, then you must ask yourself if you are a Christian.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as receive a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more