Robert Wurtz II
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Eph 4:15-16 ESV)
Ephesians is basically broken down into two halves: chapters 1-3 are doctrinal and chapters 4-6 are exhortation. In short, God says in chapters 1-3, “I have made you a saint.” In chapters 4-6, He says, “Now, live a saintly life.” (Weust) This is why we have the use of “therefore” in Chapter 4:1 and in Romans 12:1. Paul builds his case and then calls us to action.
When Paul was leaving Ephesus for the last time, he warned the elders emphatically and with tears that grievous wolves would come into the church not sparing the flock. He told them that among those present, some would seek to draw disciples after themselves. This was not the first time he issued such a warning. For years He lamented the destructive power of such behavior- in so much that he had here-to-for spoke these things night and day to them. When writing to the Ephesians years later, he offered precious instruction on how to prevent this type of destruction. To explain it he employed the metaphor of a human body.
Building Up Itself
I find it interesting that in modern times we have a great understanding of the things Paul spoke of. Paul would have had no such knowledge; but the Holy Spirit, who inspired these writings certainly did. As technology has increased so have the dangers Paul spoke of. His metaphor has only sharpened with time. Understand that when a body functions normally, it grows and repairs itself automatically. Cells die and are replaced, while other cells multiply to effect proper growth. However, we need to ask, what happens when a cell begins to grow and divide uncontrollably? We usually call that a tumor. What happens when that abnormal division begins to spread around effecting other parts of the body? We usually call that cancer. Paul’s body metaphor comes into view. He expounds on the importance of the whole body being under the Head (Christ) and that every joint or part must work properly for the Body to grow in love. His concern was that individuals would break off from the Head- doing their own thing becoming what we might call a “tumor” or a “cancer” to the rest of the Body.
The Carcinogen of Pride
Any time there is a platform for men and women to express their pride and ambition there is great danger. We see it in all walks of life. The churches of God are not immune to such things. Pride and ambition are like cancer causing agents in the Body of Christ. When left unchecked, people who are motivated by these realities will multiply themselves (as it were) simulating legitimate growth. We must understand that not all growth is created equal. Not all growth is healthy to the Body. A “following” is not the same thing as a ministry. Many in these last days are taking to themselves the title of minister, but are not truly under the Head (Christ). The result is the exact thing Paul warned Ephesus about:
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
(Act 20:29-30 KJV)
In the early days of Television Ministry, the National Religious Broadcasters held seminars to prepare TV ministers for “celebrity status.” Since that time almost all forms of ministry have been directly effected by a form of Christianity, as defined by Television. The brightest and best have been pushed to the front until Christendom is largely an expression of Paul’s great fear in Acts 20. It has gone unchallenged to the point of normalcy. In fact, many ministers have nearly reached demigod status. They are untouchable. The Christian landscape is now filled with ministries, under the names of men and women, with all of their respective alliances. A form of Christianity has emerged that is very different from the book of Acts. Multitudes have embraced the very thing Paul warned about.
Christ’s Vision of the Church
Thousands of ministers have a “vision” for their ministry, but Christ has one vision for His Church. In His Church the Saints are endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:3). Why? because in the mind of God there is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. (Eph 4:-6) To Christ, everyone is vitally important and functional in a real sense. There are no superstars. There are no “American idols.” As the cliche goes, there are no big “I’s” and little “U’s” (you’s). The worldly scourge of such mindsets are non-existent. What did Paul say to the Philippians?
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain. (Php 2:5-16)
Lowliness of Mind
It has been said that one of the greatest tests of our spirituality is whether or not we can esteem others better than ourselves. A Christian with a lowly mind is the enemies worst nightmare. A person serving the Lord who could care less if they were ever seen or noticed is a mighty weapon in the hand of God. Paul stated on two occasions in his epistles (Eph 4:2, Php 2:3), that we are to walk in lowliness of mind. “Trench says of this word: “The Christian lowliness is no mere modesty or absence of pretension, nor yet a self-made grace. The making of ourselves small is pride in the disguise of humility. But the esteeming of ourselves small, inasmuch as we are so, the thinking truly, and because truly, therefore, lowlily of ourselves.” The word is used in an early secular manuscript of the Nile River at its low stage, “It runs low.” Expositors defines it: “the lowliness of mind which springs from a true estimate of ourselves – a deep sense of our own moral smallness and demerit.”” (quoted in Weust) We are to have the mind of Christ in the genuine article as the antidote for the spiritual “carcinogens” of this world that lead to “cancers” that sicken and drain the Body of its vitality.
We have to make a conscious decision to be in God’s will for our lives and not allow selfish ambition to become destructive to the Body of Christ. The world likes to manufacture idols of people. If we fall into that trap we endanger not only ourselves but they that we would seek to lead. We imperil the churches and provide for the enemy a beachhead from which he can invade the Body.