December 10, 2018 • Life for Leaders
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Last week, we learned that our individual growth as Christians is essentially connected to the body of Christ. Ephesians 4, though not denying the value of individual maturity, focuses mainly on the building up of the church. Verse 13 envisions a time when “we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
We are to grow in unity. This unity, according to our passage, is “in the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God” (4:13). The words “faith” and “knowledge” both point to the basic theological truth affirmed by Christians. Unity isn’t simply a matter of warm feelings or shared mission. It is based on common conviction, most of all on the affirmation of Jesus as the Son of God, the divine Savior and Lord through whom we have been saved into new life.
If we want to grow as Christians, if we want to be unified in Christ, then what we believe matters. What we preach matters. What we proclaim in worship matters. What we say to the world about Jesus matters. Right theology matters.
But, we must also remember that, according to Scripture, both faith and knowledge have to do with more than thinking alone. Faith isn’t just belief. It’s also trust. Having faith in God is putting your trust in God, not just affirming that God exists.
Similarly, knowledge in the Bible isn’t only intellectual. You may recall that Scripture sometimes uses the verb “to know” when talking about sexual intimacy. Knowledge has a deeply personal dimension in addition to a cognitive dimension. “Knowledge of the Son of God,” therefore, has to do with thinking the right things about Jesus and being in true relationship with him.
Thus, if we are to grow together in Christian community, we will make it a priority to go deeper in our theological understanding of who Jesus is and what he has done. And, at the same time, we will seek to deepen our relationship with the Lord, to trust him more fully. We will grow when we do this both individually and corporately, living out our trust in Christ in every part of life.
Something to Think About:
How do you understand the relationship between Christian unity and faith? Between unity and the knowledge of the Son of God?
What helps you grow in your belief in Christ? What helps you grow in your trust in Christ?
What helps you grow in your knowledge of Christ? What helps you grow in your relationship with Christ?
Something to Do:
When you are next in worship with your Christian community, pay attention to what is affirmed about Christ. How does this affirmation bring unity to your church?
Gracious God, you desire us to grow into greater unity as your people. This unity comes through deeper faith and knowledge of Christ. So help us to know Christ more truly and to trust him more fully, so that we might be more unified as your church. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
God: the Source of Life, Knowledge, and Wisdom (Isaiah 28ff.)
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.