Wednesday, 30 April 2008

An Exciting Translation

In recent weeks I have again been reading and meditating on the Epistle to the Ephesians. This letter is a veritable mine of revelation which yields fresh treasure each time one comes to it with a heart open to hear what the Spirit may be saying. This time round it was a translation of chapter 4:15-16 which arrested me with a brilliant fresh illumination of the Church as God had shown it to His servant, Paul. I found it quoted by John Stott in his helpful commentary on the epistle. It is by Markus Barth, and here it is speaking of the Body of Christ:

“He (Christ) is at work fitting and joining the whole body together. He provides sustenance to it through every contact according to the needs of each single part. He enables the body to make its own growth so that it builds itself up in love.”

It is astounding to think that the practical truth of this Scripture is so little recognized in the organized churches of our day and indeed of many centuries past. To those who are honest it may have proven to be disturbing as John Stott himself confesses in these words, “The more we share Paul’s perspective, the deeper will be our discontent with the ecclesiastical status quo” Discontent there may be but, by and large, the status quo persists and is accepted. We continue to hold seminars and conferences to promote humanly devised schemes for church growth and church planting and I admit with some embarrassment that I used to eagerly attend such sessions but I do not remember this Scripture ever being quoted during discourses of the so called experts in the field.

Jesus left with His disciples no blueprint for growing the Church. Their responsibility would be to follow Him under the power and leading of the Holy Spirit and He Himself would go to work fitting and joining the body together, linking believer with believer in a living organism, and through each and every contact He would provide the sustenance needed by each individual according to his needs and so by its inherent life the body would grow.

Why don’t we trust Him to do what He says? Are we prepared to take the necessary steps of faith to let Him prove to us that it is true?