Saturday 23 October 2010

Bible Book:

"Speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ." (v.15)

Ephesians 4:7-16 Saturday 23 October 2010


Paul grappled with the tension between the unity of the Church,derived from the unity of God, and the diversity found within thebody of the Church. He sought to hold the two together by showingthat the very diversity which put a strain on its unity was itselfa gift of God.

He argued that it was the one God who gave out a whole range ofgifts - each a gift from Christ. It is not clear whether Paulconsciously listed the gifts in some order of importance. Arguably,he would not have given any list without putting 'apostles' at itshead. What is not clear is whether there is some notion ofhierarchy inherent in the list as it unfolds. It seems unlikelythat Paul saw prophets as receiving a higher gift than evangelists,or that he sought to evaluate the importance of pastors andteachers in relation to each other.

Whatever might have been in Paul's mind when he listed the gifts inthis way, it is clear that the purpose of each of them was thesame, namely "to equip the saints for the work of ministry, forbuilding up the body of Christ". We know from 1Corinthians 12 that the 'common good' was all that Paulwas concerned about and that it was out of order for one member ofthe body to think more highly of themselves than another member ofthe same body. The passage from Paul's letter to the people ofCorinth encourages us to think that he was much more concernedabout the unity of the body and the outcome of the various giftsthan he was about who or what was the more important.

Here the body image of the Church is paramount. The body as a wholeworks properly only when every part of it individually is workingproperly. And the key to such unity is love. Everything comes fromGod. Each has a gift from God. This is not a self-made quality, itis a gift, it is grace, God's grace from beginning to end. This iswhat keeps it in order and prevents a superior attitude from oneperson to another.

To Ponder

How far does the image of 'unity and diversity'provide a model not only for the search for Christian unity todayin the ecumenical movement but also within each localcongregation?

To what extent is this image of unity anddiversity a helpful and practical image for family life - and forlife within the community of the nations?

What does "speaking the truth in love" mean foreach human relationship and for dealing with disagreements,especially disagreements within the Church?

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