“…to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12)
Most every Sunday, our pastor says, “The church is not the building, it’s the people.” It’s true! Of course, no church is perfect because every person who attends is imperfect. But it’s a blessing when you experience personally within a body of believer’s the purpose of the church lived out. Until a year ago, it had been 18 years since Karen had worked outside of our home. For those years her sole job was taking care of us. She still does that, but now, due to both a desire to work and increasing expenses for the foreseeable future, she began another one. Kids, college and cars will do that to you. So you ask, “How does that have anything to do with Ephesians 4:12”? Let me explain. Since 2001 Hunter Street Baptist Church has been our church home. We’ve truly been blessed to be part of that church family. For six years Karen spent practically every Wednesday morning doing Bible study with the same group of ladies. Because of work, the time in which they meet now conflicts with her schedule.
“…to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” A main theme Paul emphasized in Ephesians was unity within the church. He taught thatdespite different backgrounds, unity should be the natural outflow of the redemptive work of Christ and exhorted the Ephesians to that unity. He also taught of the diversity of gifts within the church. He said, “…grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (Ephesians 4:7). This statement was not a reference to saving grace, but to grace given to serve in Christ’s church. Paul then spoke to the churches purpose. Church leaders, gifted in various ways to minister the Word of God are called for the purpose of equipping the saints for the “work of ministry”, for “building up” or strengthening the body of Christ. It is to develop another person’s life through acts of love and encouragement.
As Christians, God has given each of us a spiritual gift in order to serve. It’s His gift; we are really just stewards of them. These gifts are to be used as we minister to others. If only the body of Christ was more dedicated to this calling? If only Christians would use their God given gifts, if only they would do what Paul encouraged Timothy to do, “fan into the flame the gift of God”, there’s no telling what great things God would do through His church (2 Timothy 1:6). As Karen has taken on another chapter of her life, I know she is thankful for the time she spent with Margaret, Jenny, Emily, Ann, Pam, Janet and Carla. She has been ministered to and encouraged by all of them. For my part, I have no idea what spiritual gift God has given any of them nor do I even know them very well. But I know this, they have loved my wife and I am grateful for that. What a blessing it is to see God work through His church and through His people to build up the body. Nothing unifies like Jesus does and through Him, Karen will always be unified with these ladies. They’ve promised that her spot will always be there should her schedule change. This is but one example of what Paul was encouraging in this passage being carried out. I’m sure there are others. It is also a testimony of God’s work in the life of our church and His work personally in the lives of these ladies. But most of all, it is a testimony to the work of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who has shown His grace so brightly in the lives of His people. To see people living out God’s call on their lives, enabled to do so by the power of the Holy Spirit, and done all for His glory. Now that’s what I call church!
Father God, thank you for the people who take your Word and your purposes for the church seriously. Thank you that you have given grace to accomplish these purposes. Thank you mostly for Jesus Christ who accomplished our salvation that we may know you. Help me to take seriously your call for the body of Christ. Let the gift you have given me be used for your glory. Amen!