Sometimes we find ourselves chasing the next, greatest, and best thing that comes around. The next new phone or the next new market strategy. And churches, as well as individual believers, can easily fall into this same hype when it relates to their faith. What is the next best, brightest, and easiest sure-fire way to bring people into the doors of the church? And we jump in hoping for the best but sadly find out this bright, new thing is simply another “gimmick”. It sounded great, but it rarely leads to lasting depth.
Lasting depth is not a quick or easy process. And despite our best intentions, there is no “easy” scheme to obtain it. God is the mover and teacher, we are His instruments. And we are strange, wonky, and obtuse instruments at times. Thankfully, even though we can consider ourselves to be a rusty tool, God still chooses to use us to build each other up.
Ephesians 4 speaks of a body that is built up to bring God glory and for His people to grow.
“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers…” (Ephesians 4:11). We often read this and think “here are the people God uses for ministry! They can get the job done!” But verse 12 shares a different destination: “12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ… (Ephesians 4:12-13).
These gifts are there to equip other believers for the work of ministry. God does not have a select few that are doing his work and ministry, He has the entire body of believers participating in the aspect of ministering to each other and the world. And the goal is maturity. It says we are to become like Christ together. God does not want to see a select few “super Christians” who are doing all the work like some sort of elite celebrity or top athlete. In fact, I would argue that image is almost directly contradictory to the pattern of who we follow. Our ego should not increase. Our reputation or brand is not the primary concern for our ministry. God wants us to become more like His Son and to have the story be about Him rather than us.
Jesus humbled himself to become one of us so that he could save us. He emptied himself of everything so that he could rescue us from our own destruction. And as a result we read: “9 Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11).
Effective faith is about orienting our lives around Jesus and who He has now made us because of the immense sacrifice He gave for us. The process of becoming more like Jesus is sometimes a slow and frustrating process. There is no short-cut or quick fix that transforms us into super saints. God chooses to use others people in the body of Christ to encourage, rebuke, correct, and share the burdens of life in order that we become more like Christ together. So before you jump on the next shiny, quick-fix to become more like Jesus, remember that God has told us that He wants us to be people who go to His Word for truth, prayer for communication, and the body of believers for fellowship and companionship.