Those of us who are parents can remember when our children were born. When we first looked at our baby, we marveled at how wonderfully made he or she was. We may have counted the toes and the fingers to make sure there were the right amounts. We examined the eyes, the nose, the mouth, the arms and the legs. Yes, wonderfully made! Although we loved having a baby, we didn’t really want the child to stay a baby – that would not be normal. We wanted the child to grow up and mature.
The church is described as a body that needs to grow up and mature. Children are easily misled or tricked because they don’t have the necessary experience and maturity. Members of the church who lack spiritual maturity can also be misled by preachers with false doctrines or fall into sin. Ephesians 4:11-14 “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.”
So what is God’s design for creating maturity in the church? Ephesians 4:15 “But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ.” The first thing we are told to do is to speak the truth in love. We speak the truth as found in the Bible in contrast to those who teach false doctrines. And we speak this truth in love. It should be obvious to those who hear us that we are telling them the truth because we love them and therefore want them to know the truth. I’m sure you have had people tell you the truth but not show love. We need to speak the truth in love. The second thing we are told is to grow up in all things into Christ as the head. There needs to be an emphasis on Christ as our head. There can be so much emphasis on truth for truth’s sake that we fail to hold up Christ as our savior, our example, and the one in charge over the church.
We exist because of Jesus Christ. We are His body. Ephesians 4:16 “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.” We are designed to be interconnected and working together, as each part does its share. We need each other to effectively grow. When one member neglects his duty, that puts an undue burden on the other members. Nor should one member assume most of the responsibility or do most of the work as occurs in some churches where one man does almost everything. The church works best when each member does his share. Then notice the last phrase: “edifying of itself in love”. We need to build each other up, motivated by our love for each other.
Some people say “I don’t need the church; I can worship God by myself”. This ignores Christ’s design for his church, where “every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”