November 21, 2019 • Life for Leaders
In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church — for we are members of his body.
Ephesians 5:28-30 (NIV)
This section of Ephesians 5 is based on a commonsensical observation: People nourish and take care of their own bodies. Of course we can think of instances in which this is not true, cases where people have not cared well for their bodies. But Paul is not worrying about the exceptions here. He is making an observation that is usually true: “No one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body” (Ephesians 5:29). Paul’s main concern isn’t with actual bodies and how people nourish them. Rather, he is using this general truth about bodily self-care to reveal something significant about Christ. He feeds and cares for the church because “we are members of his body” (Ephesians 5:30).
How does Christ do this? I’m sure we could think of dozens of ways Christ feeds and cares for his church. He feeds us by giving us his truth in Scripture. He cares for us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. And so forth and so on. But, no matter how true these observations might be, we would do well to remember something we found in the previous chapter of Ephesians. There, in Ephesians 4:15-16, Christ, the head of the body, is the source of the church’s growth, as each member of the church does its part to build up the body in love. Earlier in Chapter 4, Christ gives gifts of people (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers) to the church, people who equip each and every member to do the ministry—that is, to join in the building up of the body of Christ.
So, even as we celebrate that fact that, as members of Christ’s body, he is caring for us, we must also own the fact that we are essential to Christ’s system of body care. Christ wants to work through you to nurture his body. He does this by giving you empowering gifts through the Spirit, by using your literal body to communicate his love for others. Christ loves the lonely person in your church, but your arms are the ones through whom he will embrace that person.
Something to Think About:
When you think of Christ’s feeding of and care for the church, what comes to mind?
How does Christ feed and care for you?
How does Christ use you to feed and care for others in his body?
Something to Do:
Renew your commitment to the Lord to be available to serve the members of his body where you regularly connect.
Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for loving your church as you do. Thank you for feeding us. Thank you for caring for us. Thank you for all the different ways you do these things. Today, I’m reminded to thank you, once again, for those you give to your church to equip all of your people for ministry. Thank you, Lord, for apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Thank you for nurturing us through them.
Help me, Lord, to be an active member of your body. Use me to care for others, to build them up through your love. Amen.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
Honoring the Body of Christ
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.