Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV
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.
Over the last few years I have become very aware of my body. I became aware of my need for more cardiovascular exercise when I discovered a heart condition, so I went to the gym where I could be inspired by (and learn from) the athletic types. I became aware of my need for surgery when I tore most of the muscles in my left shoulder in a biking accident—so I looked for a surgeon. I became aware of my need to learn more about how my body works during a challenging health crisis, so I looked for teachers who could explain things to me.
When the body aches, the heart searches for body builders—those who can help us get strong in places where we are weak. That’s the way it is with the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit loves the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit knows the Body of Christ. And the Holy Spirit is leading the Body of Christ to health. How is the Spirit doing this? Through giving spiritual gifts to individuals that build—that strengthen—the Body. When the Body aches, the heart searches—and the Spirit meets us with those gifted to help us in key areas of need.
I have a friend who loves to plant churches, to care for them and their leaders, and seems to have spiritual authority sometimes marked by powerful ministry expressions. That’s someone with an apostolic gifting. I have another friend who hears from the Lord with remarkable clarity, and offers what they hear with humility and for the strengthening and comfort of their local church. That’s someone with a prophetic gifting. I have a friend who naturally leads people to put their faith in Jesus. That’s someone with an evangelistic gifting. I have another friend who cares for groups of people with wisdom, counsel, and a shepherd’s hand. That’s someone with a pastoral gifting. I have yet another friend who reads the Scriptures with revelatory insight and communicates their meaning with refreshing clarity. That’s someone with a teaching gift.
The Body needs all these kinds of leaders to grow. While I don’t think any one of the above leaders and influencers needs to create a business card with one’s title on it (can you imagine John with a business card that said “Apostle” beneath his name?), I do believe these gifts are real and help the Church to flourish.
But the end game of these gifts is not to provide a stage or platform for the gifted; the end game of these gifts is to train us to do what they do, and to help us all become mature in our walk with Jesus. When we don’t equip others with and through our gift, we utterly miss the reason for which we have been gifted in the first place. These gifts call us to Christ, into Christ, and onward with Christ as we deepen in his character.
“The whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (v. 13). That’s what I want. That’s what you want, I trust. We’ll need community members who are humble, Scripture-soaked, and fruit-of-the-Spirit leaders with apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, pastoral, and teaching gifts to help us get there.
Jesus, I receive the Holy Spirit. I thank you that you never leave your Body without what we need to come to maturity in Christ. Come, Holy Spirit, send your Body, in my local church and in the wider Church you love, leaders with the kinds of gifts, and the character, we need to grow. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Have you recently been ministered to deeply by someone with the kinds of spiritual gifts mentioned in this passage? What was your experience?
For the awakening,