So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, 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 4:11-13 (NIV)
Read: Ephesians 4
Consider: Children don’t wake up one morning and they have suddenly become adults. Parents invest considerable time and effort in raising and training their children for adulthood. When you think of it there is a two-way partnership created, where the parents share their knowledge and experience and the child learns from them. Despite the difficulties and setbacks parents don’t give up and the children continue to learn all the way through to adulthood and beyond.
Exactly the same is true of us as Christians. We start of as new believers and we need to grow in our faith. Paul tells us in Ephesians 4:11 that God appoints ‘… apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service …’ Reading this it would be very easy to take this as meaning only those in church leadership. However, we are all teachers; we all have a role to instruct each other in the faith. Christian parents especially have a very significant role in instructing their children in the faith. While we can depend upon church leaders, Sunday school teachers, small group leaders and many others to play their part in sharing their faith, parents cannot and should not abdicate this responsibility.
Look again at what Paul says is the purpose of this instruction; it is to ‘… equip his people for works of service …’ and to help them ‘… become mature …’ Maturity isn’t an end in itself, even though each Christian should be striving for maturity. Maturity is to make the person useful in what Paul calls ‘… works of service’.
In Ephesians 4, Paul moves on to show us that while infants in the faith we could sometimes be led astray by unscrupulous people. Unfortunately, now as then, there are people who purport to be Christian leaders who are not interested in extending the Kingdom of God and proclaiming the gospel. The ability to discern teaching that does not conform to the Bible is something that only comes as a person grows in Christ. As Christians grow in maturity, Paul says:
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. (Ephesians 4:14-15)
These verses reveal another reason for Christian maturity. It is that we can become more Christlike. By becoming the mature body of Christ (the church), we can become the people God wants us to be, we can use the gifts God gives us in his service and we can live under the authority of Christ (the head).
Pray: Father, we thank you for the regeneration that happens when we commit our lives to Christ. We acknowledge that we need to grow as Christians by spending time with you in prayer and Bible study, as well as benefitting from sound teaching from other Christians. Give us a heart that yearns for maturity, so that we can fulfil our part in the body of Christ (the church). Amen