Short Meditations on the Body of Christ: 4. A Growing Body
Eph 4:15,16 we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body… grows
Many people don’t like change but growth means change and that is what the teaching of the New Testament expects. Jesus taught, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all your seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and perch in its branches.” (Mt 13:31,32) His expectation was that the kingdom of heaven or ‘kingdom of God’ as it is often referred to, the expression of the reign of God in heaven and on earth, would grow and become big. The Church is the expression of the kingdom on earth and it has indeed grown to be the largest spiritual body on the earth.
How does it grow? It shares the Gospel and people respond, are born again and are added to the body, the Church. A local church that is not growing, clearly does not have the life of God flowing through it. We may say we are living in hard materialistic days – and we are – but nothing has changed in that respect and when Jesus expressed his Father’s reign, people flocked to him.
To the Colossians, the apostle Paul wrote of “the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.” (Col 2:19) Ligaments and sinews hold the various members together and enable them to fulfil their function. So what holds us together as individual members of this body? (i) Loving relationships that (ii) enable fellowship to occur and (iii) allow the Spirit to flow in and through us. This verse comes as a warning to the lone Christian who doesn’t like ‘church’ (and there are many today) but who forgets that they ARE the church and they will grow as an individual and enable the body to grow, only when they are with it.
The writer to the Hebrew understood this when he wrote, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb 10:25) If we are to grow numerically and grow in character and grow in ministry, then we need to be together so that fellowship (real heart and spirit encounter) can take place and we can be taught and challenged and encouraged (as the verse above says) and be built up. Part of growing is to become strong, strong in our faith, strong in our witness, strong in our ministry. This are all facets of growth and that is Jesus’ expectation for his body. Are we growing as individuals and is our local church growing; if not, what’s wrong?