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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Ephesians 4:1–16

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.” (When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love. (NRSV)

Back when I used to run (which, sadly, is a long time ago!), I once had a nagging, dull pain in my right knee. My first instinct was to ignore it, hoping that it would just go away on its own. My second instinct, as it became clear that this issue was not going away, was to adjust how I walked and ran: I modified my running gait, took shorter steps, and as I landed would partially pivot my right leg in a way that just wasn’t natural. It will come as no surprise to you that I soon found myself truly injured, but the pain had spread far beyond that initial injury. My attempts to avoid the initial problem had put undue pressure on the rest of my body, and I now had pain in my hip, calf, and outside of my foot.

When Paul writes of the interconnectedness of all the members of the body of Christ—both in this passage and the more famous 1 Corinthians 12 passage—he does so as a reminder that nothing that happens in our community or church is an isolated event. When one member suffers, all suffer with that member. When one member rejoices, all rejoice with that member. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once wrote: “We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.” Because of our interconnectedness, we are called to “build one another up in love” through Christ’s example, exercising humility, gentleness, and patience in all circumstances, while also “speaking the truth in love” when real issues arise. This is difficult work, but it is vital for us all.

Holy God, as an indispensable member of your body in this world, inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit and Christ’s example, may I indeed build up others in love this day and all days. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry

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