Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. - Ephesians 4:16
What do Florence Nightingale, Richard Simmons, and Hillary Clinton have in common? In the nineteenth century, long before soldiers wounded in battle received anything but minimal medical care, Florence Nightingale and a group of “gentlewomen” traveled out to the Crimean battlefield to care for the wounded. As a result of her heroism and compassion, the first school for training nurses was established in her name. Richard Simmons is the television celebrity who specializes in getting sedentary people out of their armchairs and into a regimen of vigorous aerobic exercise. And Hillary Clinton is well-known for her advocacy of government-sponsored health care. So what do they have in common? A concern for healthy bodies, which is highly popular in the western world. This is not surprising, in light of the fact that this world is teeming with things that are hazardous to our health!
Paul was concerned about health issues, too. He not only said, “the church is [Christ’s] body” (Eph. 1:23), but he also worked hard to see that “the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (4:16). Careful attention to the well-being of the church—the “body of Christ”—is necessary if it is to be vigorous and healthy. Paul explained how this will be achieved.
First we must recognize that “we are all one body, we have the same Spirit, and we have all been called to the same glorious future” (4:4). There is no place in Paul’s gospel for rugged individualism. Believers must take their place in the community of believers, those with whom they hold the most precious truths in common.
Second, we recognize that in the church there will inevitably be major and minor differences, but the way we handle them is crucial. So we are called to “be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults” (4:2).
Third, we must recognize that the Lord has given gifted leaders to the church and that those leaders are responsible to “equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ” (4:12). This means that each of us should acknowledge the leaders’ role and identify and fulfill our own. This is the way to develop a healthy body.
The man who is aware that he is part of the body of believers, whose attitudes contribute to a loving, caring atmosphere, and who actively exercises his gifts in the ministry contributes to the church’s health. And he’ll be healthy, too!
For Further Study: Ephesians 4:1-16