Three Markers of Church Health

12 05 2020

These days a lot of people are learning to walk:

  • toddlers are wobbling
  • people are mending after surgeries
  • those recovering from various weakening diseases or injuries

With the current shelter in place situation, many people are taking time to walk for exercise and sanity!

We are learning from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians that the body of Christ is also learning to walkout our faith, being equipped by five kinds of “physical therapists” — apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. 

What does the Head of the body desire that all this equipping will produce? Let me capture it in three characteristics of church health.

1. FULL GROWN.  We have already seen that Christ is the fullness of all things, and that the church is the fullness of Him (Eph. 1:22-23). So Paul says that our destiny is to measure up to the full maturity and beauty of Christ:

“till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph.4:13).

I struggle to imagine myself as being full of Christ. I think I would surely explode! The soul of the living Son of God would decimate my human soul. But I must still ask myself:
>>What are the practices that expand my knowledge of Christ and increase my likeness of Him?
>>And, who am I equipping to stand taller in Christ-like maturity?

2. SURE-FOOTED.  My wife has started a small group Bible study in James. She just came into the room where I am writing to share an insight from her personal study this morning. The Word of God is equipping the women in her Bible study to discern what is true — exactly the thing Paul predicted,

“that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Eph.4:14).

There is a difference between reading over a passage and digging in and studying it. I know you know that.
>>What is your regular practice of studying God’s Word for yourself?
>>Who are you equipping in being sure-footed doctrinally?
(This post is starting to really convict me).

3. COORDINATED AND FIT. (OK so that’s two)   Picture an Olympic figure skater perfectly circling the rink and flawlessly twirling with joy. Every part of her body is getting direction from her brain. Her nervous system, her muscular system, her pulmonary system — every muscle and tendon play a part in executing her routine.

The body of Christ is being equipped for just such a wonder:

“but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Eph.4:15-16).

Jesus loves His body. In a following paragraph, Paul will describe a mystery in which Christ “nourishes and cherishes” His body, the Church (5:29). His body is beautiful in its synchronization. The Head perfectly controls every part. There are no limp limbs, no paralysis, no amputations. At least that is the full image Christ desires.

The Head of the church is altogether true. And so, in community where Christ reigns, we speak the truth in love.
>>The healthy body speaks truth, but not without love.
>>The healthy body loves, but not without truth.

Everybody wants to improve the church. Change it. Correct it. Shape it. How about a bit of preening in front of a mirror and admiring her beauty for a change?

>>What coordination do you observe in your church?
>>What parts of the body are fit and beautiful to watch?

Because we are all in one body, we each have something we need from others.
Because we are all in one body, we each have something we owe to one another.

Lord, this is a year to pause and reset my place in your body.
I’ve had certain thoughts about it. Criticisms of the church.
But there is so much beauty going on in the church.
As you see me, how do you want me to contribute?
How would you like me to help the body grow up into the full stature of Your fullness?