Text: Eph. 4:1-32
The 4th of July always reminds us of our freedom as a people. It is a great celebration of independence. Unfortunately, this word “independence” has come to mean something that our forefathers never meant it to mean.
Today it means “no one tells me what to do, I can do whatever I want, I’m Independent.”
To our forefathers however, the idea of Independence was more like Inter–Dependence than our modern idea of it.
This is also true spiritually. One of the reasons American Christianity is in trouble today is because we have a false idea of what it means to be a Christian.
We think being a Christian is like being an American … we are independent, we don’t answer to anyone but God and no one can tell us what to do. (although actually if this were true we would not be independent, we would be interdependent),
The Bible never supports the idea that we are supposed to be independent! Actually, this is the concept of Evil! Satan got Eve to think and act Independently from God or her husband, sin resulted! Satan himself acted Independently from God; and it was his downfall … the drive for independence is built on a foundation of sin and evil!
The Bible teaches Interdependence … we are not alone, and we don’t grow alone … we are built together as a Holy Temple, upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets. Nothing good happens spiritually with independent Christians … it is a contradiction in terms! There is no power in being independent.
Illustration: A man went to an asylum for the criminally insane. He was a bit surprised to find that there were three guards to take care of a hundred inmates. He said to one of the guards, “Aren’t you afraid that the inmates will unite, overcome you, and escape?” The guard said, “Lunatics never unite. Locusts do.”
Christians should unite. If we don’t, we don’t know where our power is.
The Bible clearly teaches that Christians are interdependent, never independent. We must not only be in a right relationship with God, but with one another as well. There is no power to the Christian life lived alone.
- Our First point in the previous post speaks of: “Union”
- This Second post will look at point two: “Useful”
- Then the Third part will focus on: “Understanding”
Capabilities (Ephesians 4:7-13)
Ironically, the lack of being independent doesn’t weaken the individual’s importance, it heightens it!
- It doesn’t demote the individual, it promotes them to even greater importance!
- It makes each person a critical part of a whole!
- Inter-Dependence demonstrates the importance of the various capabilities individuals have and how that benefits the whole.
Paul likens this principle here to the various gifts given to the Whole Church … there are various gifts, but none are to be thought of as greater than the others but as necessary to the whole!
- One part of the Church cannot function well without the other parts… Just Like Your Body
- Could you function as well without your foot, without your hand? Which part, if lost, would not impact your function in some way?
Paul’s point here is simple, though each is gifted in different ways, we are all Inter-Dependent for the purpose of making the Church whole and each believer mature.
- This is what built this country too – Diversity in Unity!
The whole emphasis in these verses is “unity” and the resulting maturity that comes when we act Inter-Dependently.
Complete (Ephesians 4:14-16)
The Goal of inter-dependence is to benefit All, not just some.
- Paul’s point here is to show that such Inter–Dependence will produce mature believers, those who will not be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”
- The result then is that the whole body grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Independent Spirituality Does Not Do This!
- It is ridiculous for someone to claim to be a Christian and not be part of a body of believers. This is contrary to everything the Bible teaches!
- There are no “lone rangers” in God’s Kingdom!
An Inter-Dependent Church is a wonder to behold; it is strong, powerful in witness, accomplishes great things, and reflects the very nature of the Godhead.
- No individual can do what the Church together can do!
- God grant us this kind of Church always.