Catching A Glimpse of the Church Fully Engaged
“11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 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.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Ephesians 4:11-16 NIV
The more I study the Scriptures, the more I begin to realize that while we in the modern American church clearly recognize pastors, we substantially undervalue and under-utilize the other four gifts to the church… almost dismissing them totally.
It is worth mentioning that nowhere in the Scripture do people use these spiritual gifts just to edify themselves, but to bless others and to edify the church. Prophets didn’t call themselves prophets in order to be recognized by others. They were called prophets because they were recognized for boldly speaking out the promises and the Words of God. Evangelists were not evangelists because that is what they called themselves, but because they were out evangelizing and sharing the Gospel with anyone who would hear it – and often those who wouldn’t too. Pastors and teachers were not called so in order to gain a position or recognition, but because they were faithfully shepherding, directing, and leading God’s people. Apostles were not called apostles because they wanted to be recognized as an authority in the church. By being labeled as an Apostle, they had become a target for the enemies of Christianity. Rather they were Apostles because they had personally been with Jesus and were called personally by Jesus Christ Himself. They were the Apostles, because they led the charge in establishing the early church. These labels didn’t come about to give people position or influence, but because they were naming what people were ALREADY doing.
We need to remember that when the spiritual gifts are at work in the body of Christ, there is no division because the Spirit of God is a Spirit of unity and not of division. The gifts were given to edify and build the church, not to tear it apart. The gifts were meant to bless the church and help her reach her full redemptive potential.
How and where do we get these gifts? You don’t gifts from God are just that – gifts. They are sovereign gifts from God. Trust the Spirit of God who gives them. Desire the gifts from God. How do we know if we have them? Step out in faith for God. Attempt great things with God. Can you imagine how powerful the church would be if more people stepped out in their God given gifts? Can you imagine the influence the church would have if people with these gifts took the risk of attempting great things with God? I wonder what would happen if the church today embraced all five offices that Jesus Himself gave to His church. I wonder how much more power from the Holy Spirit could be unleashed if all five offices were alive and active in the church today.
Apostles… How much greater would the influence of the church be, if those with an apostolic gift were to step up to help to create systems and strategies to take the church beyond where we are now?
Prophets… How many more lives would be encouraged and edified if those with a prophetic gift were to speak the words of life that are hidden and lying dormant in them? How much more encouraging, life-giving, and attractive would the church be, if more people boldly spoke out about God’s love and care with a prophetic cry? How many
Evangelists… How many more couples, children, and families would come to faith if more evangelists took the chance to share the Gospel? How many more people who are lost, heading for a Christ-less eternity, could be saved if evangelists operated in the local church? How many more addictions would be broken? How many more souls could be saved?
Pastors… How many more people can be shepherded if more pastors rose up in the church? How many more broken people could come to faith in Jesus Christ? How many more marriages would be healed? How many more teenagers would find hope? How many more believers would reach their potential if shepherds built up and encouraged the body of Christ?
Teachers… If more teachers of God’s Word rose up and faithfully presented the truths of God’s Word in a practical and applicable way, how many more lives could be changed? How many cults and terrorist attacks could be prevented?
I might be a dreamer, but I love the church of Jesus Christ and the potential that still lies dormant within her. I’d love to see the people of God reach their full redemptive potential. I’d love to see the Kingdom advance in ways that it never has before.
Holy Spirit I pray for an uprising of people in the church that will see the power of God ignited all around. I pray that Your Spirit would cause people to aspire for more of You. More of Your power. More of Your strength. May we be a people that will dream big dreams for You. In the precious name of Jesus’ Christ, amen.