This Sunday will be the third Sunday in the Christian season of Advent. In many traditions, the third Sunday is special, both in theme and in color. Though Advent is a serious season of waiting, the third Sunday emphasizes the joy of our expectation. This joy is often expressed through the use of pink candles and decorations… Psalm 147 makes a strong connection between hope and delight, but one that surprises us.
Growing up in a family of four children, there were times when my siblings and I would throw selfish fits. Perhaps we had to share our toys and didn’t want to. Or maybe one of us was ruthlessly teasing another. If one of my siblings and I were bawling about some petty injustice, we would often hear a familiar refrain, “Don’t be a baby!” We read something like this in Ephesians 4:14, though the context is different and the language is less confrontational.
Yesterday, we saw that the church as the body of Christ is to reach “the perfect man,” that is, the stature and character of Christ himself. The last phrase of Ephesians 4:13 makes a similar point with different language. As we grow together, we will be “attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Admittedly, this is perplexing language. What is the fullness of Christ? What might be the “whole measure” of this fullness?
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 … Read More
If we want to grow as Christians, if we want to be unified in Christ, then what we believe matters. What we preach matters. What we proclaim in worship matters. What we say to the world about Jesus matters. Right theology matters. But, we must also remember that, according to Scripture, both faith and knowledge have to do with more than thinking alone. Faith isn’t just belief. It’s also trust. Having faith in God is putting your trust in God, not just affirming that God exists.
We are in the first week of the Christian season of Advent, a time of preparation for Christmas in which we remember the hope of Israel for God’s messiah. Even as the Jewish people waited for God’s anointed one to bring peace, so we wait in our day for the completion of what God began through Jesus Christ. We yearn for our broken world to be healed, for suffering to cease, for God’s justice to reign. Psalm 42 calls us to share in Advent hope.
When we think of church growth, we usually envision numerical growth. A growing church, we often believe, is adding new members and increasing its worship attendance. That’s what it means to be a growing church. Yet, is this notion of church growth adequate? Is it based on a truly biblical understanding of the church? We’ll consider the numerical growth of the church soon. But, today, we’ll focus on another dimension of church growth, one that takes center stage in Ephesians 4.
It would be wrong… to pit corporate growth against individual growth. Both are essential and, in fact, both depend on each other. This is implied in Ephesians 4:11-16, where the development of the church depends on actions of individual Christians. If solitary believers are not growing, then surely the growth of the whole body will be hampered. Similarly, your individual growth in Christ depends, to a great extent, on your growing Christian community.
When we think about growing up, we tend to envision our own, individual growth. That’s only natural. Similarly, when we think about growing up as Christians, we also tend to focus on our own spiritual growth. That’s also only natural. It’s good, but it isn’t enough. Yes, as individuals we should grow up in Christ. It turns out, however, that our individual growth turns out to be essentially connected to the growth of the Christian community.
Are you actively living so as to become a mature disciple of Jesus? And do you understand what Christian maturity really is and how you might actually attain it? Today, and in the days ahead, we’re going to examine one of the most important biblical passages on Christian growth. Ephesians 4:11-16 paints an absolutely essential and often surprising picture of maturity, one that will both inspire you and challenge you.