Built Up Together in Love
Bible Reading: Ephesians 4:1-16
There is a famous story of the days when Sir Christopher Wren was building St. Paul’s Cathedral. On one occasion he was on a tour of the work in progress. He came upon a man at work and asked him: “What are you doing?” The man said: “I am cutting this stone to a certain size and shape.” He came to a second man and asked him what he was doing. The man said: “I am earning so much money at my work.” He came to a third man at work and asked him what he was doing. The man paused for a moment, straightened himself and answered: “I am helping Sir Christopher Wren build St. Paul’s Cathedral. All three were working on the same project, but only the third man grasped the glory of what he was privileged to be a part of. We sometimes lose our focus and forget that as members of the body of Christ we are incredibly privileged to be a part of the greatest work of all!
It is to the praise of the glory of God’s grace that He would work, in Christ, to unite people of all different backgrounds, young and old, rich and poor, men and women, having all sorts of differing goals and perspectives and possessing all sorts of divergent thoughts and idiosyncrasies. And that He would devise to take such a rag-tag group of ordinary and imperfect souls and grow them up together into Christlikeness, thereby using them to make the truth of his gospel known to others! The church is not just something you go to, it is the church of the living God into which you’ve been intimately identified (1 Corinthians 12:13). It is the church Christ purchased with his own blood (Acts 20:28). It is the church He is even now building, which will prevail over all the forces of hell (Matthew 16:18). Jesus loves His church! How about you? How we view the church will determine in part how we relate to it.
According to our text, we are to “bear with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). Sometimes people do things we don’t like, things which irritate us, or even make us mad. Perhaps you’ve heard this little diddy, “To dwell above with saints we love, Oh, that will be glory. To dwell below with saints we know, well that’s a different story.” Which is why forbearance is necessary. Bearing with one another means showing patience towards others in their weaknesses and failures. The temptation is to flee, or fight when offended. Yet when we love like Jesus we value others and are patient and forgiving instead. Such situations are “teachable moments” in which we can learn to love like Jesus.
We are to be exercising our spiritual gifts in love (Ephesians 4:7-12). We’ve all been uniquely gifted with some supernatural spiritual abilities in which we are to serve the body of Christ. These gifts are to be used for the common good, for the building up of the body of Christ and to the glory of God. Every gift is important to the health and growth of the body. The body needs your particular gift(s) and you need the ministration of the gifts of others. There are a myriad of ways to serve in a local church. We love like Jesus when we prayerfully seek and then serve in our God-given roles.
We are to be speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). The ministry of the Word is essential to the building up of the body. That happens through the preaching and teaching of the Word. But it also happens through the ministry of the members of the body to each other. We are not just to speak the truth apart from love, for that would likely be harsh and thereby likely fall on deaf ears. Nor are we to speak apart from truth, for then we’ve provided no lasting benefit. We love like Jesus when we are Spirit-led to speak at the right time, with the right words, in the right spirit, and for the right purpose (Ephesians 4:29).
Bearing with one another in love. Using our gifts in serving the body in love. Speaking the truth in love. These are all a part of what it means to love like Jesus. And they are all essential to the building up of the body in love. Take some time to prayerfully consider where you are at in fulfilling your role in these ways in the church to which you belong.
We Love Like Jesus when we Love His Church
Lord Jesus. How beautiful is Your church! How miraculous the work You’ve done and are doing in building Your Church. How encouraged we are to know that You love Your church and You’re protecting her and preparing her to be presented to You one day! Forgive us for not always loving Your church as we should. Grant us a renewed vision of the incredible privilege and blessing You’ve given to us in being united in Your body. We are prone to selfishness and too often easily offended. Grant us the humility of spirit such that we might bear with others, even as they bear with us. You’ve gifted us all, in one way or the other, that we might be using our gifts to the building up of Your body. Help us to serve one another well according to the gifts you’ve given. And take our lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee–as we speak the truth in love. Amen.