FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON THE TRIUNE GOD
UNITY FOR MINISTRY
September 21, 2011
Today’s reading: Ephesians 4:1-13
God sends out His people on mission. It is the one God who gives His people the one work. Thus the people themselves, as instruments of God, should also be one. In vision. In love. In single-mindedness of purpose. In the pursuit of holiness.
Unity is a basic hallmark of the Trinity. The Triune God–Father, Son, Holy Spirit–is three Persons in one God.
“one body and one Spirit,
as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.”
The Holy Spirit animates the body, granting God’s people the grace to grow in holiness and righteousness. The Holy Spirit sends God’s people out on mission, to fulfill God’s call to them. This mission provides hope for all, as God is known and Jesus is accepted as Savior and Lord.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the center of the Christian faith. Jesus is the Savior who won salvation for God’s people on the cross. When people are baptized, their original sin is forgiven, through the sacrificial death of Jesus, and they are brought into the faith, having been restored in their relationship with the Father.
The Father gathers His children to Himself. He reigns as King over their lives, establishing them as royalty in His Kingdom. He works through them, using them as His prophetic instruments in the world. He lives in their hearts and in their homes, allowing them to minister to one another with the very love of God. This is a call to the kingly, prophetic and priestly ministry. This is how one is “to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received” (Eph 4:1).
The call to ministry is a call to be like God. As such, it is also a call to unity that reflects the unity of the Triune God.
What are the essential aspects of this call? How can God’s people be united?
* Humility (Eph 4:2). We humble ourselves, not looking down on others, but in fact regarding others as more important than ourselves. We realize our lowliness, especially in the face of the God who calls us, that apart from His grace and strength we are nothing. We realize that God uses those who are nothing in this world, and cuts down the proud but exalts the lowly. With humility, we look on our brethren as children of God clothed with dignity and honor, and as co-workers whom God will use in power.
* Gentleness (Eph 4:2). We are to be gentle in dealing with our brethren, especially with those who are less mature than we are, as a nursing mother cares for her children. We are to be meek in the face of verbal or pastoral assaults.
* Patience (Eph 4:2). We are to be patient with the failings of others. We realize that people respond to God’s call at a different pace. In the face of great difficulty or frustration, we look to how God has patiently dealt with us in our own sinfulness.
* Bearing with one another through love (Eph 4:2). We are more tolerant of the quirks in others that irritate us. We practice forbearance whenever we are wronged. We forgive as God has forgiven us. We love with the very limitless and unconditional love of God.
* The bond of peace (Eph 4:3). We eagerly work for peace in the body. We correct but we encourage. We are not judgmental. We are quick to ask forgiveness for our own moral failings. We seek out the good of our brethren. We help mediate conflicts whenever we can. We always seek the truth.
The call to ministry is also the call to do the very work of God in the world. If we are focused on the one work, then we can more easily become united, as we desire to accomplish the task God gives to His people.
In this, we realize that God’s people need to be formed and equipped. As such, God raises apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers (Eph 4:11). Their task is “to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph 4:12).
* Apostles are those who are sent. But since every disciple of Jesus is one who is sent into the world to do God’s work, then we all partake of the calling of the original Twelve.
* Prophets are those who speak in the name of God to His people. We are all called to be prophetic, in speaking what God reveals to us for the care and direction of His people.
* Evangelists are missionary preachers, who go into the world in order to proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus. Since the world as it is now, especially the developed world that has turned pagan, has become a mission field, then every one of us ought to be evangelizers, in the day-to-day environments of our lives.
* Pastors and teachers attend to the pastoral care, ongoing formation, and shepherding of God’s people. Parents themselves are called to pastor and teach their children, the next generation of God’s people.
What is the goal of all the above, aside from building unity and equipping the saints for mission? It is “mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ” (Eph 4:13b). “Mature manhood” means literally “a perfect man.” The goal is to present everyone perfect in Christ. We are to be another Christ. We are to be holy as God is holy. We are to be perfect as the heavenly Father is perfect.
Now that takes some doing! And so the servant leadership is to help equip, build up and form, and everyone in turn is to strive eagerly, “until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God” (Eph 4:13a). When we finally know and live out the reality of Jesus as Savior and Lord, when we eagerly desire to bring his salvation to the ends of the earth, when we become united in faith and as one faithful community and well-knit and properly-equipped army, then we will become worthy of our calling.
“The one who descended is also the one who ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.” (Eph 4:10). This is Jesus. He came down to earth as man, accomplished his work, and has ascended into heaven. We await his glorious return.
We in turn are here on earth, but we look to heaven. In the meantime, we are to go about the work of the Kingdom. We are sinful flesh but we are called to be holy as God is holy. We are mere humans but we have been made little less than gods. We are weak but God gives us His strength to be able to do His work.
We continue to look to the Triune God. In the unity of God we find our motivation to be united ourselves, and the direction that we need to fulfill our ministry.
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