Ephesians 4:11-16 (NIV)
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 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.
14 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. 15 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. 16 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.
In this series, we have been taking time to grow deeper in our understanding of Christ-centered community by focusing on four aspects of how what we say makes a profound impact on the depth of the relationships we have with those around us. This week, we turn our attention to the idea of edification as a viable pathway to healthier, deeper, more meaningful community.
So often we forget the power held in our words and actions toward others. Similar to the discussion of confession in the first week of this series, edification (the building up of those around us) plays a major role in the development of healthy community and a body of believers that represents the fulness of Christ. When we are feeling good and the sun is shining, it seems easy enough to dish out compliments left and right. However, when we begin to look deeper into the reality of edification, we realize what we are called to do is a far cry from, “nice hair cut, Bob”. While there is nothing wrong with complimenting Bob’s (okay) haircut, we are called to lean into who God made us to be and take bold steps in order to allow those gifts to be utilized by the Spirit for the building up of the church.
God will use us whether we understand what our gifts are or not, but Scripture clearly teaches us that our gifts can be more fully utilized by God in our lifetimes if we understand not only our own gifts, but others as well. Take a few moments to asses your awareness of some of your spiritual gifts. Take note if any stand out to you.
If edification is one of the keys to healthy community, it is an important thing to understand. Although it may be a new term for some, it was obviously essential enough for Paul to mention. Take some time and reflect on the metaphor used describing each of us as members of a body. Think about the value that each part of the body holds in its healthy operation, and write down some ways our functions as believers in the church are similar.
- Think back on your experiences in church or in school. As you look back on those times, do you see any patterns concerning your possible gifts? Looking back now, do you see any impacts stemming from either choosing to utilize that gift, or avoiding using it out of fear?
Read Ephesians 4:11-13. Here Paul is exhorting the importance of recognizing each role within the body of Christ is unique and vital. Paul notes in verse 12 that Christ showed his apostles these gifts to “equip them for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up”. What do you think of the “roles” Paul mentions here? How do you think each of these roles can be used to “build up” the church?
Often we worry about our spiritual gifts going unrecognized by others. We want so desperately to be known by who we are that we often extend our gifts beyond our intended reach. From what we’ve learned this week, we know that often our spiritual gifts are quite subtle. What do you think of the idea that our spiritual gifts are for God, energized by the Spirit, for the benefit of others? Do you think this makes the visualization of our gifts more or less likely and important? How do you feel about the possibility of not seeing the result of you using your gifts?
Read Ephesians 4:14-16. Here Paul stresses the importance of us finding our God-given place within the believing community. Paul suggests here that if we work together as a body, utilizing our gifts for the benefit of others, there is no storm that can pull us apart. What do you think is significant about this idea? Can you think of moments in your life where either a community you were involved with, or one you witnessed from the outside, worked together to overcome an obstacle? What aspects of those memories stand out to you the most now?
Plan to carve out time before you meet next to take the spiritual gifts test mentioned in the sermon at www.spiritualgiftstest.com/test/adult. Make the plan to discuss your results together next time you’re all gathered. Then start seriously considering how you can utilize your spiritual gifts best in your own life and community for God, energized by the Spirit, for the benefit of others.
Our gifts are given for the sake of how they’re used in community. If you are looking for the type of community that you can live into your gifts alongside, we’d love to help. Start taking steps toward joining a Connect group right here.