As parents, we want our kids to grow up healthy and strong. That is our work on earth–to nurture our babies, help them walk and talk as toddlers, teach them how to relate to each other as siblings, how to relate in love back to their parents so they are prepared to relate to others in the world. We teach each one with the same love but in different ways. Wait, what? Yes, every child born is unique by God’s design. If you are parent of more than one child, you see this readily.
Randy and I were blessed with three children about two years apart. We foolishly began to think we knew what we were doing as we taught the first child but when we applied the same methods to the second and third we realized that each child had gifts and abilities, moods and attitudes, personalities and ways of thinking that were not like the first child. Guidance and teaching could not be “one size fits all”. Each child was had the same amount of love from us, making us “one” as a family but each individual in our family had to grow in their own way. We all were growing as parents and as children.
Paul says, so it is with gathered believers called church, also known as the Body of Christ. Jesus Christ, the Head of the Body, makes us all One in Him. We all get the same equal love, mercy and grace. But we are all given unique gifting from him that, if the gifts are used according to His will and plan, make the whole Body, healthy, growing and full of the love of Jesus! How amazing is our God and His Son to design this way of relating to each other as One?!
This new way of thinking, growing, learning and relating to each other with the love of Christ in us is summed up by Paul in these words;
“He (Jesus) handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.”
This is growing up, as One, in Jesus! God grows us daily with this special relational design so that we know to how to love, relate, respect, serve, show mercy and grace to each other while being reconciled to Him! God is amazing! Holy Relationship is His design to bring out His best in us. Allow Him to do His work in us. Grow up!
RUN on the road God called you to travel! You won’t regret it!
EPHESIANS—RECONCILED TO BE
Ephesians 4, The Message
To Be Mature
1-3 In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run! —on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.
4-6 You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.
7-13 But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. The text for this is,
He climbed the high mountain,
He captured the enemy and seized the plunder,
He handed it all out in gifts to the people.
Is it not true that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth? And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.
14-16 No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are easy prey for predators. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.
The Old Way Has to Go
17-19 And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.
20-24 But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.
25 What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.
26-27 Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.
28 Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work.
29 Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.
30 Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.
31-32 Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.
THINK ABOUT IT…
Paul, powered by the Holy Spirit, tells us clearly who we are and what to do in Christ along with specifics of how we should think and behave so we can grow to be like our Father, God, shown to us by Jesus. Our believing grows to match our behavior more and more. “No more infancies among you”—in other words, grow up, listen to God’s Holy Spirit as He guides you to be all God gifted and designed you to be in the Body of Christ!
God created us to be uniquely different but with the same deep love displayed by Jesus, our Savior and Lord. Be reconciled (in restored relationship) to God though Jesus. Be reconciled to each other because of what Jesus did for us. This is growing up in Christ.
This is my prayer, that we would all be One in you, dear Jesus. Same God, same love, same Spirit, same Jesus. May we use what you have given to us to help each other, to help others find and follow you, while growing in your character.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen