“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” https://www.bible.com/bible/111/EPH.4.11-16
The importance of this passage gets overlooked many times. The purpose is not “what” Christ gave to the church but “why”. What is the purpose of the apostles, prophets… etc. The purpose is to equip the church. That word equip is also translated: perfect. He gave us the leaders in the church to perfect the members of His Body. That word “perfect” was never meant to be taken as flawless or mistake-free. It simply means to mature or reach maturity. The church is not called to be mistake-free but we are called to perfection. We are called to grow up! We are called to be perfected.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” https://www.bible.com/bible/111/HEB.12.1-2
Is not Jesus called the “perfecter” of our faith? The word “perfecter” can also be used as in “finisher”. Like a master craftsman, finishes his work. He perfects it; he completes it. This is one of the roles of Jesus for His Body. Who does He use to complete this monumental task? He uses the leadership that He has placed in the Body.
The aim of Christianity is to grow up. We are all called to reach spiritual, physical and soul maturation. It may be the job of Jesus to “perfect” us and we can rest and have peace knowing that He knows exactly what He is doing. (Remember we are the clay and He is the potter.) It may also be the job of the church leadership to be His helpers in this process but ultimately it is left to us to “grow up”.
What are we to grow up into? For instance, puppies grow into dogs, calves grow into cows and apple seeds grow into apple trees, what are we called to grow up into. Nothing less than the fullness of the stature of Jesus Christ.
“The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” https://www.bible.com/bible/111/LUK.6.40
“Fully trained” or “perfected” or fully mature. We are created in the very image of God. We are created in God’s class. To understand this fully, we have to understand the beginning. To get to where you are going, you have to know where you are at to begin with. It does no good to head south to Orlando if you are in Miami. You have heard people talk about going south to Orlando, but you need to know where you are before you can make progress.
“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”” https://www.bible.com/bible/114/GEN.1.26-28
There are a lot of concepts to grasp here. Every human was created in God’s image. We are the children of God with the potential to grow into our responsibility and purpose. We are all connected and He connects us all. Sin has caused us to miss the mark. The definition of sin is “to miss the mark”. Through the fall of man, we have lost our potential. We have become dead to it. Through Jesus we are made alive to it. To be reborn in Jesus is to be made a new creation and to be brought back to your original purpose. To be fruitful (productive and mature), to multiply (to have influence on the growth of others) and to have dominion (take responsibility for what was given to you).
Briefly, because it is important to understand this, being productive or bearing fruit is not just a church-thing. Life is not to be divided into a church and secular mentality. You are the church. Everything you do is with Him. As you abide in Him, He gives the inspiration to follow dreams and desires that will lead you to become very productive. This is a whole separate teaching but at the same time it is linked. Your influence over people may be in your field or it may be in other fields.
Before, I digress more, I will continue this in the next blog and I summarize this. We are all called to grow up. We will discuss the “how” in the next blog, but it is the Will of God that you grow up! That is His will. He is not a micromanager over your life. He has given us the freedom to choose. Choose to grow up in Him. He is our potential. He is the one who “perfects” us. He is the master builder. You are the child of God with the potential to reach maturity in Christ. He wants you to allow Him to be your teacher. You will never rise above Him, so do not let false-humility or pride stop you, but when fully trained you shall be as Him.
I John 4:17
“Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world.” (emphasis added) https://www.bible.com/bible/114/1JN.4.17