Ephesiansby Robert M. Solomon
The combination of unity and maturity in Christ produces a lovely church that is truly the body of Christ.
Continuing his reflection on unity in the faith and maturity in Christ, Paul goes on to describe what will happen when these qualities are missing or weak. The church will then be deceived and distracted; Christians will be like immature, unstable infants, and their faith will be tossed about by the currents of false and alluring teachings (Ephesians 4:14). Deceitful teachers will lead gullible people astray. Like the wind and waves, false teachings produce a lot of motion (and emotion), but no real growth and progress in the Christian life.
Sadly, there are many examples of this today. Unbiblical teachings, Christ-less activism, superficial emotionalism, and the focus on religious trivialities are all serious obstacles to spiritual maturity.
A church that is growing in unity and maturity provides an altogether different picture. Such a church grows in its connection with its Lord. In all things, the believers “grow to become in every respect the mature body of him” (v. 15). He is the head of the body, and it is He who provides unity and maturity in the church. “From him the whole body” is held together strongly and grows up in love (v. 16). Without Christ, we cannot be united or grow into maturity. As Charles Spurgeon observed, “A church that is only united in itself, but not united to Christ, is no living church at all”. The phrase “whole body” refers to a unity that requires participation by all.
One key characteristic of this unity and maturity is love. We cannot claim to have unity and maturity if we do not have love (1 Corinthians 13). It is in this godly love that we are built up (Ephesians 4:16). It is with this love that we learn to speak the truth (v. 15), never compromising, but always communicating it in God’s love. It is also with this same love that we perform our God-given work in the body of Christ and in the world. A sign of unity and maturity is that each member of the church will do his or her part (v. 16) for the glory and honour of God.
What forms of superficial Christianity can you see today? How is the lack of unity and Christian maturity connected with this?
As we grow up into Christ, we will find unity and maturity. How can we do this? Why is love a key manifestation of unity and maturity? How should it be expressed in your life?