A brother and I have been studying the letter to the Phillipians together. At our most recent meeting we began working our way through chapter 2 which begins as follows:
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4 ESV)In two hours of discussion we couldn't move past these verses. We were locked in to sharing all the riches that are ours in Christ and how those riches empower us to follow Paul's exhortation to the church in Phillipi. For the first time ever when reading this passage I could see God's purpose in building the church very clearly. That purpose is for all of the redeemed to be built up into Christ. So we are to have the same mind, same passion, and with the same goal to build others up into Christ. Can you imagine how buff Christ's body would be if every member had this mind and goal? We cannot even begin to imagine the impact God's kingdom would have if every believer everywhere was devoted to building others up in Christ. As I got lost in these meditations and fantasies I was reminded of Eph 4
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16 ESV emphasis obviously mine)I used to think of this verse as a sort of proof-text for having certain church officers and positions of authority. Then one day I saw the word "until" and it completely changed my understanding of these verses. That word "until" is one of the most overlooked and ignored words in all the Bible in my opinion. When we overlook the "until" we ignore the goal of God's purpose in building the church and fail to move on into the resulting blessings of a multi-member functioning body that meets to edify one another. Notice the wonderful results of a body that builds itself up:
- the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God,
- to mature manhood,
- to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
- we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine
- we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ
That is why I am so adamant about throwing out our present church practices, traditions and liturgies and having gatherings where every member is expected, encouraged and equipped to minister to the body. Its because I've been consumed with this same passion to see Christ clearly manifested in a corporate body. I'm not talking about reforming practices by adding or tweaking existing programs like Sunday school or small groups. I'm talking about a gathering that could not be scheduled and orchestrated because each member brings what the Lord desires for them to share as they have abided in His indwelling life throughout the recent days. I'm talking about sharing that small piece of Christ you discovered with the rest of the body to build them up and receiving the other pieces that are brought as we are all built up into Him.
You might think that I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.