From [Christ] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
– Ephesians 4:16 (NIV)
As a pastor, I am sometimes asked to identify my favorite passage in the Bible. This is a difficult question for me to answer, since I have many favorite passages. When it comes to the subject of the church, however, Ephesians 4:16 is my favorite. I love it so, because it employs the oft-used biblical image of the church as a body. For me, “the body” is a fitting image for the church. Like a body, the church is composed of many members, all of which must work together in order for the body to remain healthy and strong. Like a body, the movement of the church is governed by the head, which is Jesus Christ. Being a healthy body requires reaching outward, looking inward, and growing together.
Let’s consider ourselves, and our own lives. Every day we spend a considerable amount of time reaching outward, for that is what a healthy person does. We go to work, and to school. We spend time with family and friends. We also participate in the ministries of our church, which calls us to extend Christ’s ministry of self-giving love to our community and our world. Reaching outward is essential for the life of a healthy person, and it is essential for the life of a healthy church.
Every day we also spend a considerable amount of time nurturing inward. Introspection and self-care is essential to the growth of a healthy person. No matter how busy our lives may be, we ignore things like proper exercise, nutrition, and rest at our own peril. The traditional spiritual disciplines of prayer, study, and worship are essential to our growth as Christians. In order to be healthy and strong, we simply must attend to the needs within.
The result of reaching outward and nurturing inward is growing together as a body. The Apostle Paul is right when he says that the body grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. This fall, our Church Council is working to revise our vision statement according to these three expressions of bodily movement and growth. It seems to us that everything that we do as a church can be seen as reaching outward, nurturing inward, or growing together. You will hear more about this vision as we move into the excitement of another fall season. I’ll see you in church!
Yours in service,
Thomas Q. Strandburg,