February 2016 newsletter
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. (Ephesians 4:1-7)
Writing from prison in Rome, the apostle Paul admonishes the believers in Philippi to live in a way that honours God. Their attitude towards one another is to be characterised by humility and love. In everything they do, they must be motivated by a desire for unity within the body of Christ, the church. After all, God is one, and He has called them – and us today – in one hope. We all are children of one heavenly Father, who is above all and – by His Spirit – lives in us all. And it is through His Spirit that we are united in one body.
Being one, however, does not mean that we are all the same. God, in His wisdom, has given to each of us different gifts according to His grace. We are called and endowed with gifts not because of our merit or our own efforts; God distributes His gifts as He Himself chooses.
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ - from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:11-15).
Paul points out that God has called some to lead within the body of Christ. These leaders are not the head of the body; Christ Himself is the head. It is He who calls each individual and places them in the body according to His will. It is He who directs the body to function as He desires. So then what is the purpose of leadership within the church?
Paul explains that the role of leaders is to equip the individual members of the body, the saints, for the work of the ministry to which God has called them. They do so by teaching the truth of God’s Word to those they lead. As each member grows in the knowledge of Christ and discovers his/her God-given place in the body, the whole body can grow into the “perfect man” that God desires it to be.
Like members of a physical body, each member of the church has a particular role and purpose that only he/she can fulfil. Thus each member is equally important. If one fails to function in his/her role, the whole body lacks as a result. But if each member does his/her share as Christ, the head, directs the body is built up in unity and love to the glory of God.
What is your place? What is your calling? What gifts has God bestowed on you? Are you determined to do your share in His body? Are you asking Him to reveal to you what ministry He has called you to? Are you looking for an opportunity to develop the gifts God has given you? There are many things to do in church. Some roles and functions may be more conspicuous than others, but they all work together for the building up of Christ’s body.
Over the past year we have been looking at spiritual gifts and callings in our small groups and also with our youth in NCounter and in our leadership training. This year, I believe, we will see the release of gifts and callings in a completely new way. What about you? Will you be part of what God is doing? Will you seek God to discover your calling and use it for the benefit of His body? Will you speak to your leadership to find out how you can use your gifts effectively?