It is sometimes easy to get the impression that following Jesus is an individual pursuit. Presentations of the faith gives the feeling that it’s a one time decision that you make to enjoy the good news and then go to heaven when you die. Those presentations obviously didn’t have Paul in mind when they were made.
The glorious mystery that Paul wrote passionately to the church in the region of Ephesus was not of an individual happy-clappy time, but of God’s eternal purposes bringing people together. People who were alienated are now brought together in Christ. Jesus has made it possible for true humanity to emerge to the glory of God. That humanity is not an individual pursuit. That is a communal pursuit. Hence the desire that the church be about the business of responding to this good news by maintaining unity.
The issue about being about the business of showing the manifold wisdom of God is a glorious expression of diversity in unity and unity in diversity. With that in mind the big picture is seeing how Jesus has made sure His Bride has gifts designed to equip every member of His Body. This is with the desire in mind that the Body can grow up for God’s sake. Grow up in being about the business of serving others – everyone in it together, not leaving it to ‘religious experts’ or setting up false ‘clergy/laity’ divisions. Grow up through these gifts in knowing who Jesus and expressing Him to the world. Grow up and so be mature and not be swayed with every appealing doctrine. Grow up in love, in truth, in unity and in Christ.
The growing up process requires us to work together. Growing up needs us to see the bigger picture of the glory of God displayed to the heavenly realms and on the earth through growing in knowing Jesus. The more barriers we put up to prevent that happening – busy lives pursuing the deceitfulness of riches and security in this life, leaving the ‘ministry’ to the ‘experts’ – the more we veer away from that which is the crowning glory of the purposes of God in Christ. In fact the more we neglect this, the less likely it is that we’ll be actively displaying that we are the Body of Christ.
The more we pursue this, though, through the gritty work of life with each other, is the more the glory of God is revealed through us. The more this is applied in the key relationships in our lives, the more we grow up to be mature in Him. The more that happens, the more the heaven we so long and clamber to reach after we die actually breaks through in our gatherings and scatterings in anticipation of the consummation when the Son returns.
This is why it makes sense that for God’s sake, we grow up.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden