Unity and maturity in the body of Christ
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity, for there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life evermore,” Psalms 133:1 & 3. Throughout the Bible, God is very keen on unity as seen in the very many Bible verses speaking on unity of believers and in our day to day lives. Chapter four of the book of Ephesians talks about unity and maturity in the body of Christ. To be mature is to come of age, adulthood, full-growth and the same way that we mature from childhood to adulthood, we also need to mature in the body of Christ. We cannot keep on doing child-like behaviours, but rather we ought to “live a life worthy of the calling we have received.” When we get saved, we represent Christ and become His brand ambassador, therefore the life that we live should imitate the values and code of ethics that Christ stands for.
Growth, is something that we need to strive and work hard towards, however, what we normally see, is christians who get saved but never mature. Yes I said it! People get saved every other day, but they get stuck in the infancy stage, still suckling milk, instead of advancing and eating the meat of God’s Word. The Bible was not meant to be read once a week on Sunday’s only, its supposed to be an everyday thing, getting to know our God and when we know Him, we get to mature because we learn! God has never forced Himself onto someone, and He’s not about to do that now and James reminds us of this in chapter 4:8 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”
What characteristics then, should we portray as christians? Paul starts to outline them from verse two of chapter four, we should therefore be “completely humble and gentle; patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Paul here is talking about christians being submissive yet respectful, however, the sad truth is that for majority of us, submissiveness is looked at as a sign of been weak. On the flip side of it, many men look at submission, as something for the woman and not for the man, forgetting that being humble, is to be submissive, but I love what Paul writes in verse 21 of chapter 5, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” When we look at everything we’re doing in God’s perspective, it won’t be about pleasing the other person, but pleasing God. “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him,” Colossians 3:17
Let us allow God’s Word to build, mould and change us as christians, because if it doesn’t, then we will just be reading the Bible like an interesting novel for Danielle Steel. James also speaks of humility in verse 10 of chapter 4 when he says, “humble ourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” We should also be christians who ‘bear one another in love,’ ask yourself this question, do you bear your fellow believers in love? if you do, good for you, but if you don’t, then you need to change and be caring and gentle in the way that you handle people, not been harsh and ignorant, but patient and kind. After all, “there is only one body and one Spirit, just as we were called to one hope when we were called, one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
It’s verses like these that should be read by the people who think that they are of a different kind of class than others when it comes to christianity🙄. Have you ever met believers who looked down on other believers like they were trash? thinking that the gospel they follow was different from everyone else? This is what has caused disunity and ‘favouritism’ on a certain class of believers in most churches, yet we serve a God who doesn’t show any favouritism (Romans 2:11). There is only One body and OneSpirit and each of us has been called to One hope and One Lord. One of my best Bible verses, sums it all up, “For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16. God sent His Only Son to the world, not just to a certain class of people, but to all, and to everyone who believes, salvation would be attained into their lives. The next time you see a believer who is poor, don’t think that they don’t pray as hard as you do! God is still God in their life, “to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
David writes in Psalms 68:18 “when You ascended on high, you took many captives; you received gifts from people.” Paul explains what the writer of Psalms 68:18 meant in verses 9-10 “(what does ‘He ascended’ mean except that He also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the Heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)” Isaiah writes about Jesus the Messiah in chapter 61 and what He will come to do as we see in verse 1… “He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” The devil held many in captivity, but Jesus came to set the captives free and proclaim the year of God’s favour.
Jesus knows each one of us better than we know ourselves, and He’s given us gifting’s as He has apportioned it, and because of that, He 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 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.” Not all of us can become teachers of the Bible, we all have been apportioned different gifts, but to the Apostles and Pastors, they are to equip the body of Christ for us to become mature. Do you listen to teachings by the various evangelists, and pastors? has the teachings transformed your life and equipped you into knowing and understanding the things of God better? this is what Paul is talking about, so that we stop being “infants, who are tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.”
When we know God’s Word at the tip of our finger tips, we will know when someone else is speaking and teaching a different gospel from what the Bible says. However, more and more people are being tossed about like infants due to the fact that they don’t know the Word! Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge,” God knew that there would be false prophets, that is why He is urging us to read His WORD and become mature christians, who will not be given different gospels, but who stand on truth and not be shaken by every wind of teaching. Oh haven’t we seen how they sell, ‘holy water, salt, oil, brooms! Christians wake up and stop being gullible to everything that comes your way! allow the Holy Spirit to be your guide and listen to His still small voice.
Instructions for Christian living
- Put off your old self which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires and be made new in the attitude of your minds.
- Put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
- Put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbour for we are all members of one body.
- In your anger do not sin, do not allow the sun go down while you are still angry.
- Do not give the devil a foothold.
- Anyone stealing must steal no longer, but work with their hands doing something useful.
- Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs.
- Do not grieve The Holy Spirit of God with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
- Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
- Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Memory verse Ephesians 4:4-6 "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all."