In Eph 4:7-16, Paul tells us that the triumphant Christ supplies spiritual leaders to equip the members of the body for the work of ministry. We should note here that leaders are the property of Christ; they are his to give. If we understand this point, we understand much about pastoral ministry. Belonging to Christ means that clergy are deprived of the right to make their own job descriptions. Moreover, it means that spiritual leaders do not take their cues from the business world. Christ gives to the body, not strategists, but shepherds; not entrepreneurs, but equippers; not idea men, but individuals who persist in the proclamation of the Word. Such leaders enable others to exercise their own respective ministries, so that the body is built to maturity.

Paul goes on to develop this idea of collective maturity. As a boy marks the wall with a pencil to monitor his physical growth, perhaps until he reaches the height of his father, so the body is to aspire to the mark of the full stature of Christ. “No prolonged infancies among us, please,” as Eugene Peterson translates it. The immature in the faith, Paul says, are like tiny, rudderless boats, sea-tossed and carried away by every fresh gale of false doctrine. The mature, on the contrary, “incardiate” the one faith and then speak the truth of Christ from the heart. This, then, is Christ’s design for the one church: leaders equipping members; every member confessing truth and exercising his or her unique ministry; the whole body building itself up in love.

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