Build Up the Body

Christ is the head of the church.

And we are each members of his body.

First and foremost, it is important to get that right. We don’t always understand or practice that relationship very well. Instead of Christ at the head, we have people in leadership roles that will attempt to step into the headship role. In the same way, instead of being part of the body, we have people who will maneuver to take a position, or will work against the body instead of work to build it up.

Paul spends a lot of words in chapter 4 in his letter to the Ephesians to emphasize these points, that Christ is the head and we are each members of his body. The members of the body work together to build one another up. The members of the body have the other parts of the body in mind. As each part works, it works for the good of the rest of the body, and always to lift up, respond to, and do the work of, the head, which is Christ.

Paul says that, while we are one body, we are not necessarily all the same. Christ gave gifts to each of the people within the body. In this chapter, he lists five:

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

The five are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers.

And these five have a purpose. The purpose of these five is to equip the people for works of service. Christ gives the gifts to the church so that the church will be built up. Not necessarily just that each of us would use our gifts individually so that we are individually glorified. No, instead, it is so that the body will be built up.

But why build up the body? The head of the body is concerned about the health and growth of the body. The head of the body wants to see that the body comes to full maturity. Christ does not want to we remain infants. Instead, he wants that we become mature.

How would these gifts make us mature? Let’s think about the gifts themselves for a moment:

Apostles are the people that see where the kingdom of God is not yet and helps to lead and organize us to reach out to those who do not yet know Christ. This brings the body to greater maturity by teaching the rest of us to see those around us who need to know Christ and do what is necessary to reach out to them.

Prophets call us to greater clarity and truth in alignment to the word of God. Prophets help us to know when we are out of alignment and are straying away from the calling of Christ on our lives. Instead, they point us back to the way of God and keep us pointed in the direction that Christ has called each of us to go.

Evangelists teach us to tell others. We need to know how to share the Gospel. We need to know when to share the Gospel. We need to know the best ways to share the Gospel given the diversity of the people and their backgrounds all around us. Evangelists build us up by showing and leading the rest of us to do these things.

Pastors, or sometimes translated Shepherds, care for the flock. Jesus said that he is the Good Shepherd, but he has also placed shepherds amongst us. They take care of the people within body of Christ and teach each us to do the same with those who are around us.

Teachers continue to take us deeper into the word of God, helping us to understand its meaning and applying it to our lives. They help us to see what it is that the word is saying and teaching us also how we can teach others. They can multiply their gift by teaching others the meaning of certain sections of scripture, but they can also multiply their gift by teaching others to teach.

In these ways, we can see that the body of Christ will be built up. It will continue to grow until it reaches maturity, attaining to the full measure of Christ.

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