The church: a people used to overcome, to offend, to transform, to heal, to be effective. A people who can sometimes blow your mind up with goodness, but at other times can fail miserably. I want to say I believe the church always does good, but then I would be lying. The church is full of imperfections because the church is full of flawed people. We are the church. We are the one’s who fail. We are the one’s who do the very things we don’t want to do (Romans 7:15). But thankfully, we serve a God who makes all things new (Ephesians 4:24). In Ephesians 4:1-16, Paul urges us as Christians to live in unity in order to help the body grow so that we can build each other up in love and be the kind of church we are called to be. This passage shows us that even though the process is messy, God demonstrates His love for us by using each individual Christian for the purpose of growth amongst all Saints together.
Equipping the Saints
Paul says in Ephesians 4:11-12 that God equips us to do His work even when we feel like we can’t. Compassion isn’t my strong suit, most definitely not my spiritual gift. I’m the type of girl who was told to shake it off growing up, so naturally that has been a knee jerk reaction of mine to other people’s hurt. Yes, I would probably laugh if I saw you trip over something, run into a wall, fall down the stairs, etc. Again, not my strong suit; I blame my parents. Since this isn’t my strong suit, of course God never ceases to teach me a thing or two about it. I got asked to go to the hospital the other day to pray for an elderly lady. I was terrified. She was in a lot of pain, and I truly felt unequipped. “Why would God ask me? I’m horrible at this!” Long story short she turned out to be hilarious and a real joy to be around. I seriously could’ve sat there for hours talking to her, and she loved Jesus a whole lot. If I would’ve told Jesus no and just started crying and blamed it on pregnancy, I wouldn’t have been able to walk away with a blessing of meeting her that day. I hope she felt the love from my small tiny prayer, but more importantly I hope she felt Jesus. Paul says in Ephesians 4:15-16 that when we all work together and do what he has equipped each of us specifically to do, the body will grow and build itself up in love. God wants to use each of us in different ways. When Jesus ascended He equipped Christians with His Spirit in order to be used by Him, to be unified, and to be alive like Christ.
Unifying the Saints
God calls us to be unified because we need each other. Everything we do and everything we are should be saturated with oneness because we all serve one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, one God and Father of all—part of one hope, one faith, and one baptism (Ephesians 4:3-6). I had a student compare all the members of a church to ingredients in a cake. Though it seemed like a childish answer, within it lies so much truth. If all the ingredients come together and do their unique job, they will make an awesome cake that others can now taste and see that it is good. The same goes for our churches. If we all come together and be the church, others can taste and see that our Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).
Over the summer I had the privilege to go on a few different church trips. Over the years of doing ministry and going on various trips, God has never ceased to amaze me with how He speaks and moves through students. However, this year God spoke directly to me, and His presence was overwhelming. On the first day of our high school trip, I got news that my grandfather died. It was very sudden. I felt weak. The man who taught me so much about Jesus, who led me to have a relationship with Jesus, who baptized me, who was one of the strongest, wisest, and hardest working men I’d ever known was gone. He loved me, he loved my family, he loved his congregation, and we all knew it because he wouldn’t have taught us so much about Jesus if He didn’t.
I experienced the church and God’s presence first hand that very week at high school camp. The instant I found out about my grandfather’s passing, I was quickly surrounded by other women leaders who started calling out to Jesus for me. They saw their sister breaking in front of them, and they scooped me up and literally placed me at Jesus’ feet calling on Him for strength, peace, and understanding. This is what the church does: it moves, it breathes in God’s Spirit and breathes out grace, love, and comfort, especially when you don’t have the strength to do it yourself.
You see, God wants us to be a part of something bigger: God equips us and unifies us to do greater things than we could ever imagine so that we can show others God’s goodness. We need each other because there are so many times in life you will have a similar experience and have the decision to fall apart and believe Satan’s lies. You may experience pain, suffering, hardships, and failure. Here are the hard questions I want to ask you today: are you a part of a church, and do you have friends in your life that are the church for you? Do you have people in your life who help you fight off Satan’s lies with the truth of God’s goodness, who laugh when you laugh, and who mourn when you mourn (Romans 12:15)? I encourage you today to find people who love Jesus and who will be the the church for you when you just can’t do it anymore. Find people whose cake you can be a part of, because without each ingredient, you’re just baking powder…and what good is baking powder if it’s not turned into cake?
Dear Jesus, thank You for being comfort, strength, and peace when I can’t do it anymore and when I feel like giving up. Lord, please put people in my life who love You so that when my mind floods with Satan’s lies, they can help me weed through them to find Your truth. Thank You for the people in my life who do point me towards You. Use me to be your love, grace, and hope to other people. I pray that when people see me, they ultimately see You. I love You a whole whole lot!
Album: Of Dirt & Grace by Hillsong United