Today's Lectionary Text
But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said,
“When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
(When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
Maybe it’s just me, but I have to wonder if one of the challenges that face humanity isn’t an ongoing pursuit of what it means to know ourselves.
For instance, in 2014 when I attended my class reunion, I noticed as I was driving home how incredibly tired I felt. I figured it was because it had been a long weekend with all the festivities. Over the next month, I saw my doctor several times and was treated for an underproductive thyroid, the possibility of exercise-induced asthma and, later, blockage in my left anterior descending artery, otherwise known as the “widow-maker.” That health scare led to several other awakenings, some of which I continue to work through. The challenge, I have learned, is that I needed to know myself better if I am to be healthy physically, emotionally, spiritually and socially.
When I look at today’s reading from Ephesians 4:7-16, I find that the early-day Christians needed to develop an awareness of both their identity as well as their health as a people. That meant recognizing who is the head and what constitutes the body. As all are created in God’s image, it means all people can be members of the Body of Christ since Christ is the head. The early-day Christ followers were just learning this key concept, which meant that as members of the body, they were to do Christ’s work in the world.
As Christ followers, you and I are called to do the work of Christ in the world. In order to do that, sometimes it means doing some rather unpleasant tasks. In a world where people can seem hesitant to represent Christ, Paul’s wisdom is concise: speak the truth in love. I believe speaking the truth is not just done with words, but also in the way people serve one another the way Christ did and in my experience and understanding, that way is always – without exception – the way of love.
-Rev. Mark Crist
Plainview and Crawford Valley UMCs
*Devotion originally published 6/17/2019
Prayer for Reflection
Gracious God, there are certainly times when expressing love is one of the hardest things to do, especially when each of us has a different purpose as part of Christ’s body. That does not mean that we reject one another, but instead acknowledge how we need one another. That is the truth you have given us to deal with, O God. Empower us to live into that truth so that Christ might flow through everything we do. Amen.
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