Justin Hiebert

Catalyzing Change

Oh grow up already

Posted on 01 Sep 2013 in Christianity, Church, Discipleship, Ministry, Teaching | Comments Off on Oh grow up already

Ephesians chapter 4 is one of those passages that speaks deeply to several issues within the church. Not only does Paul make his shift from resting in God’s love (chapters 1-3) to our response in the world (chapters 4-6), but also begins by highlighting some of the significant battles that every church faces:

  1. Unity and oneness. One temptation the church faces is it’s calling to unity and oneness. Paul knew that the easiest way to get the church to fail at its mission is not with blatant error but with subtle, mind-numbing distractions. We all know churches that have split over carpet decisions, worship style, or meeting times. These aren’t life or death issues, but personal preferences designed to get us away from Paul’s message to pursue “one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
  2. Egotistical self-centeredness. Another common problem in the church (well, not your church I’m sure…just the other guys….) is that people often lead out of their own giftedness, and sometimes even out of something far more sinister: their need for personal and public gratification. They ‘serve’ humble to receive the recognition. They run their ministry, with their, leaders, on their time, instead of pursuing the goal and common good of God’s gathered people. They focus more on their status and perceived importance than in honoring God. We see Paul counter this by offering the five-fold ministry to equip God’s people for works of service.
  3. Immaturity. Paul makes clear that the goal of unity in Christ and the exercising of gifts properly is so the church may “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. ”

    My niece, Leia, displays her tiny feet.

    (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I find it interesting that this is the way Paul begins to highlight the Christian distinctive. He has spent the first three chapters shaping our identity as God’s called, redeemed, and restored community. Chapter 1 of Ephesians is God’s amazing love letter, chapter 2 focuses on correcting some misunderstandings and lies we’ve believed, and chapter 3 shapes and transforms us for our calling. And then, having been officially commissioned, Paul says, “The first thing you do is work on staying united and loving each other.”

Because it’s common human practice: the more we grow in importance (or our own perceived importance) the less inclined we are to feel like we need others. We begin to exploit, devalue, and belittle others when they stand in the way of our goals. We see our calling as the only true one, and think everyone should cater to that.

So Paul reminds us that we are all needed, all valuable, and all need to be team players. Before he even dives into Christian ethics, he reminds us that we have been shaped by grace and are called to extend that to others. We find our greatest joy, not advancing our own agenda, but in remaining united in love to those around us.

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Justin Hiebert

Leadership Catalyst - Entrepreneur - Coach at JSHiebert Leadership Coaching
I am a Business and Life Coach in both non-profit and for profit settings. I coach leaders, executives, and pastors in areas of vision, clarity, and values. In relationship coaching I focus on healthy and sustainable relationships, and in leadership development roles I catalyze change for individuals and groups to thrive. I also consult churches and organizations on how to train new leaders and create a healthy culture. In addition to that, I am an Anabaptist pastor in the Denver metro area. I specialize on topics that include: missional theology, discipleship, culture and the church in today’s society. I am married to my wonderful wife Elise and we have three kids. I grew up and now work in the United States Mennonite Brethren Church (USMB) and love the people and history of the Mennonite Brethren faith. I am a graduate of Tabor College with a dual degree in Youth Ministry and Christian Leadership, a graduate of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary with a Masters of Divinity, and a Doctoral Student and Bethel Seminary. I also teach college classes in areas of Bible, Communication, and Business.

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