February 24 I Thursday
“…so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” —Ephesians 4:12-13
The third stage that Paul speaks about in the growth of a healthy, fruitful church is engaging in works of service, which builds up the body of Christ. As Christians, we are all members of the body of Christ, and what God does in us is designed to be a means of His working through us. Each member of the body is being built up as we discover how God has uniquely gifted us and engage in works of service. This is not a passive building up, but an active one. We are built up individually to be witnesses in our day to day lives, but we are also built up corporately, being encouraged, supported and motivated by others in the church. We cannot separate the individual from the corporate as both are weakened without the other. It is together as well as individually that we serve the purposes of God.
Paul then speaks about three ways in which the body of Christ is being built up. Firstly, there is unity in the faith. “Faith” is active trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, and the term “the faith” is used in the New Testament of the body of Christian doctrine that constitutes the essentials we need to believe and live by. It is the objectively defined body of truth, which concerns the nature of God and humanity, why humanity and God are separated and the means whereby humanity is reconciled to God. It is important that we understand and articulate what we believe about God, about Christ and about humanity’s salvation and life after death. What creates unity in the faith is when we are instructed in such a way that we are being prepared for works of service.
Secondly, as the body of Christ is being built up, our knowledge of the Son of God becomes not just propositional but experiential. This is the ultimate goal of the Christian life—that we know Christ and we go on knowing Him. Thirdly, Paul says we “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” A mature Christian is one whose life expresses the presence and fullness of Christ, which is the moral character of Christ. We see in Him an exact representation of what God is like, and this same character is to be built up in us.
The ministries of church leadership prepare God’s people to engage in works of service so that they might be built up. And in being built up, we arrive not only in unity of the faith, but in the knowledge of the Son of God that is ever deepening so that the likeness of Christ is increasingly formed in us.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I pray for myself and every Christian to be built up and to know the joy of experiencing You through works of service. Thank You, Lord.