When I was around 13 years old, my dad used to come by my house mid-winter at 6am to wake me up and take me ice fishing. Sitting on a frozen block of ice catching bluegill was not my idea of a good time, but it was time with him nonetheless. I remember the day he took me to his garage and gave me the materials and instructions to build my own ice fishing box. I did my best, but just reading the instructions doesn’t quite do it for me. To this day, Ikea furniture assembly instructions makes my brain melt.
What did make the difference is when he decided to help me. He was a builder, so it came naturally to him. I needed his ‘hands-on’ example to get the job done.
Jesus is the ‘hands-on’ Word of God. For us, he is not just our redeemer but our teacher and example. He doesn’t just tell us how to live life in God’s Kingdom; he shows us! The Father knew we needed a tangible Presence. We call him the Living Word, and God’s Word is alive to us in Jesus.
For us, Jesus is the key to knowing the Father. Jesus said so himself [John 14:9]. He reveals God fully, and he alone has shown us what we need to know about the Father. Our faith is most importantly a relationship with Jesus Christ, and that relationship is the key to understanding Scripture. He is our hands-on help. We must know Jesus to fully know Scripture.
We see Jesus in the stories of Genesis and Exodus. We see Jesus in the laments and worship of the Psalms. We see Jesus in the Old Testament prophets. We meet Jesus in the Gospels. And then we see the risen Christ in His Body, the Church, until his return! We are the Body of Christ until he returns, and we continue the work of Jesus.
Just as Jesus is our ‘hands-on’ help, we are each other’s ‘hands-on’ help.
Let’s take a backwards look at Ephesians 4 to see how this works:
1] Together, we are the Body of Christ [4:15-16]. Who is the Head? Jesus. Not me. Not you. The rest of us who are in Christ respond to the leadership of Jesus in the same way all the parts of the body do the bidding of the brain. I don’t breathe without my medulla oblongata telling me to do so.
The church is a body. I am not the Body of Christ; we are the Body of Christ, a living organism, not an organization. We’re not Legos being stacked together; we are a living, breathing Bride.
2] We must grow up [4:13-14]. My wife and I are not raising children; we are raising adults. Maturity is the goal. We look to Jesus and the written Word to produce maturity in us, but we also look to one another. We grow up and mature when we are shaped by Scripture, by Jesus, and by one another as we follow Jesus. We need the Body for this maturity to take place.
3] We must be God’s grace to each other [4:7]. None of us are given everything needed to continue the work of Jesus. If we are in Christ, we are each given a portion of it! Together, we are fully equipped! Each of us carry a part of God’s grace to give to one another. We call these ‘gifts’. Jesus has spread the love among us, and each of us carry a portion to serve one another with.
Withholding it causes pain and limits the Body of Christ. It’s awkward when part of the Body of Christ goes AWOL. It affects us when we don’t see people for months at a time. It affects us when we are not extending God’s grace to one another. Don’t withhold the grace you’ve been given!
We have everything we need to be the Body of Christ. He has given himself, and he has given himself a little bit in each of us. The Living Word is alive in us and among us!