I’m back from my church conference in my Diocesan role, but I’m afraid I can only do a couple more daily emails because I need to return to Norfolk to visit my parents again to help them with their move which is actually taking place next week. I apologise for the stop-start nature of the daily email in this particular period but it has been a busy and unusual month.
Our passage from the Bible today is Ephesians Chapter 4 verses 1 to 16, which marks a change of emphasis in the letter. You might say that the first 3 chapters are more about the theology (or the theory) of being a Christian as well as explaining the mystery of God’s cosmic plan. However, for the last 3 chapters of the letter beginning here in Chapter 4, Paul seeks to apply this to everyday living and so he gets much more practical.
So, in verses 1 to 6, the apostle urges his readers to live a life worthy of their Christian calling, and to display the qualities of humility, gentleness, patience and love, and with the aim of unity in the body of Christ.Simple words, admirable qualities, but perhaps it takes a lifetime to put these things into practice!!
Then in verses 7 to 13 Paul outlines some of the leadership gifts which are graciously given by God and His Spirit, which some people today call the 5-fold ministry, but I think is more accurately described as the 4-fold ministry because pastors and teachers go together as one (note the absence of the word “some” between the 2 roles). Also apostles and prophets are more foundational roles in the overall history of the church (see Chapter 2 v.20), so if the roles still exist in some smaller or local way today, which I think they probably do, then they don’t have the authority of THE apostles and THE prophets who were around at the beginning of the church, and who have written the Scriptures that we have today.(You might want to discuss this further with me at some point – I know some folks hold different views on these matters.) But note too that these leadership or Word roles are there to prepare/build up others in the church into works of service or other ministries in the life of the church, there is work for everyone in the church, as well as unity and maturity (vs.12-13).And that maturity and unity will lead to members of the church not being easily tossed about or deceived in their faith by outside circumstances or false teaching, but rather grow more strongly into Christ, and into each other (vs.14-16).
In our cycle of prayer, let us remember today in our prayers,- Andrew, currently in Bristol for one of his block weeks of training- George and Pat.