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Ephesians 4:15-16

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Ephesians 4:15-16, ‘…grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.’

That is a complicated sentence, but if we look at it piece by piece, we will find that the ability for the Body of Christ (the Church) to build itself up in love (which is to say, into Christ), is an ability that comes *from* Christ. In other words, the growth of the people of God is from Christ, through Christ and to Christ. One of the implications of this is that the working of each part of the body (i.e., individual Christians) to build up the body (i.e., minister to one another) is, in fact, CHRIST working to build up the Body.

Mowing the lawn for a sick brother, going to the hospital to pray, a pastor or friend counseling a confused and grieving disciple, listening to the burdens of another’s heart, etc. – these interpersonal acts of ministry within the Body of Christ are, ultimately, *Christ Himself* ministering TO His Body THROUGH His Body. As disciples of the risen Christ, united to His Body by the unseen ligaments of the Holy Spirit, OUR ministrations to one another are HIS ministrations to them through us. Or, to turn it around, when you are weary, sorrowful, sick, confused, afraid etc. and a Christian brother or sister speaks a word or performs an act that builds you up, that is ultimately Christ Himself—your Shepherd, your Savior, your Lord—ministering personally to you through a member of His Spirit-filled body.

So, in this image, the disciple at the center is surrounded by three brothers who uphold him in the midst of his suffering. The Spirit, surrounds and unites all four men, not only to each other, but also to the Risen Lord. The entire scene of suffering and mercy is encompassed by and played out within the Body of the slain and risen Jesus Christ. The suffering of His people is His suffering, borne in His flesh on the cross…but so also the ministration of His people to the needs of His people is His ministration, secured by and made eternally fruitful through His resurrection.