RAGAMUFFIN STUDENTs Today I want to do something different than my norm; for this article I would like to simply share scripture and respond to its message. Ephesians 4 is one of my favorite chapters in the entire bible, though it often seems to be forgotten in our day-to-day lives. Let me share Ephesians 4:11 & 12, and then 13-16 with you: Ephesians 4:11-12 “Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the shepherds and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” So here’s what I see so far and my questions: 1. Jesus HIMSELF gave us leaders to guide the church. These leaders are not solitary pastors who do everything. No He gave MULTIPLE types of leaders to lead in their unique way. The preachers should preach, the teachers should teach, the apostles share God’s vision, the evangelist bring the lost into the fold, the shepherds disciple them, and the prophets redirect us when we begin to miss the mark. These are the GIFTS of the church. My questions to our church families regarding this verse are: a. Are multiple people leading in various giftings, or are we putting the responsibility of all these on the shoulders of one or two? b. Do we see these people as gifts from Jesus? Evangelists, sure! Shepherds, absolutely! But what of the prophets? Do we thank people who rebuke, correct, and remind us of who we are and what our true purposes are? Or do we see them as divisive, rude, out of line, or even heretical? Scripture shows us that we as humans do not have a good track record when it comes to hearing and receiving God’s word through the prophetically gifted. How do you hold up to God’s people of the past. 2. The responsibility of the leaders was not to DO the work of God, but rather to “EQUIP GOD’S PEOPLE TO DO HIS WORK” and to build up the body. There’s a famous quote about church that compares it to a modern football game: “22 people on the field trying as hard as they can to accomplish a goal, and thousands watching in the stands.” a. Does our church family look to our leaders to take care of all the issues AND provide all the spiritual food? Or rather do we look to ourselves as the primary workers in God’s kingdom with the Christ-given leaders there to guide, help, and encourage us? Are WE the primary channel of God’s grace and redemption in our context or are we spectators looking to “be fed” by those we’ve hired to do that? That’s the challenge. Now let’s look at the promised rewards of God for His people who live by these verses. Ephesians 4:13-16 “This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” 1. If we follow this structure given by Jesus, one in which we look to our leaders to train, equip, and encourage us to do the work of God, rather than follow the Western precedent of expecting them to do it all (“well they get paid for it don’t they”), God makes great and beautiful promises: a. We will all become mature, MEASURING UP TO THE FULL AND COMPLETE STANDARD OF CHRIST! We will be as mature as CHRIST!!!! b. Life will have no power over us. We will NOT be tossed back and forth by every new thing or difficult struggle. c. We will be a community that can speak with full honesty, yet dripping with love. This is truly the rarest thing in our world is a person who tells the whole truth in complete love. d. We will fit and work together perfectly AS WE DO OUR UNIQUE PART, continuing to grow healthier and healthier.
Wonder of Christmas
St. Luke’s Lubbock