The way the Bible describes how relationships within the local church are supposed to work is beautiful.
Listen to Paul.
In Ephesians 4:1.
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.”
Now, that is, obviously, huge.
Especially if you know what Paul’s been saying about way you’ve been called.
Being a Christian is not just something that just happened because you believed a set of facts. According to Ephesians 1 through 3, it’s something God’s been working on, since the beginning of the world. Paul says He chose us before the foundation of the world and then you know, he just goes on and on about all the privileges we now have in Christ, and all that God is doing through the church, even in the heavenly places, where the angels exist, and I am saying, as you read about all that’s behind our calling, it makes what Paul says here, something huge.
Because, the church is supposed to walk or live in a manner, a way, that is actually worthy of the calling, to which we have been called, that matches up to it.
In other words.
Our life together as a local church is supposed to match up, or remind people a little, of what God’s done for us in Christ.
And he describes what that kind of lifestyle looks like exactly in verses 2 and following when he says,
“…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Which, I am saying, sounds beautiful.
Bearing with one another in love.
Who doesn’t want that?
It would be absolutely beautiful to be part of a local church enjoying relationships like that.
But is it actually possible?
That’s the question.
And you need to ask it.
Because, while you find a lot of people who might agree with that, and even say they want those kinds of relationships, you don’t find a lot of people who actually have them.
Even in local churches.
Which is why after describing what he wants from us, in terms of our relationships, in the local church.
Paul does two things.
First he tells us why these kinds of relationships are so important, in verses 4 through 6.
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
In other words.
As Paul looks at the nature of the Christian faith, there’s this word that keeps shouting back at him, and that’s one, one body, one spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God, and with all this one that’s involved in what we believe, it only makes sense, if we are going to put the beauty of what God’s done in the gospel on display in the way live as a local church that we have to actually live as one body.
It’s got to affect our relationships which is, of course, I’m saying, given how selfish we are, and all the challenges we face, the hard part, and, that’s why Paul doesn’t only tell us the reason, we are supposed to pursue these deep and united relationships as members of a local church.
He also talks us how.
In verses 7 through 16.
It’s like Paul, having said all these great things about what God’s doing in the church, and about what the church is supposed to be, is slowing down here in these verses, to start talking with us, very practically, about how we actually become the church, God’s designed us to be.
And his answer.
I want you to see.
Has a lot to do, with you.
Not just you by yourself, obviously.
With your own skills and talents. In your own strength.
Like, oh man, it’s up to me.
But with God’s plan for you in saving you.
And with the way He’s designed the local church to work.
If you are a believer.
To the work of the local church.
To the local church, really being something beautiful, becoming what its meant to be.
This text is Paul saying that the way God planned for the local church to get to the point where it is actually fulfilling its calling, in other words, the way God planned for the local church to actually become the church in practice that it is already because of what Jesus’ done, is by each person who is part of the church, fulfilling their God-given role.
Using their gifts.
The way Paul puts it.
And by grace.
He’s not talking about saving grace but instead about spiritual gifts.
Which are basically.
A combination of abilities you have in you through the Spirit’s enabling.
To help you help other believers grow.
In God’s great design.
Because He wants the church to be what He designed to be.
After saving you by grace and joining you to the church He shows you more grace, by giving you a special ability that you are supposed to use to share an aspect of His grace with others.
“But grace was given to each one of us.”
In all this talk about being one.
Paul doesn’t want us to forget that this one body, the church is made up of individual parts, and each one of those parts matters, because God’s given different gifts to each one that they must use for the good of others.
You can think of it like this.
To get the picture.
One way the Bible describes the church, is being like a body.
And God never intended, that one person would be the whole body.
We are all just parts of the body.
And there’s not one part of the body that is able to do the whole work of the body by itself.
It’s always been God’s plan, that we each serve as different parts of the body, fulfilling our role, in making the body work, the way it should ,that’s why grace was given to each one of us, and obviously, if that’s God’s plan, we are never going to be the church God wants us to be, unless we each feel a responsibility to use the particular grace God’s given us.
To serve others.
Basically the take away.
From this whole blog post.
In previous posts I was trying to show you what we as a church could be if we really understood church membership, and now, I am talking to those of you who are already members of local churches, who have already made those commitments, in your heart, and to the church, and I am saying, that each one of you, needs to know, needs to feel, needs to understand, that you are important in God’s plan for your church to become the kind of church the Bible talks about.
You can’t be a spectator.
Just a watcher.
God’s given you grace.
That we need.
He wants every one of you who is a Christian to be actively engaged, to feel a responsibility, to be actively involved in this whole process of ministering His grace to others.
In the local church.
And over the next several posts I want to try to help you feel that responsibility by looking at this text, in Ephesians 4:7 through 16, and showing you a number of different reasons why.