A Language Everyone Can Hear
Scripture Reading — Ephesians 4:1-16
1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to one hope when you were called-- 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8This is why it says: "When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men." 9(What does "he ascended" mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. 16From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. —
Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into ... Christ. Ephesians 4:15
As we think about the mission of the church to reach and disciple people who are far from God, we agree with the mission but are often reluctant witnesses. We often hesitate because we're more concerned about methods than about nurturing relationships.
Yvonne is a woman in our church who met a new neighbor, Laura--and soon they became friends. They exchanged child care and recipes and grew a strong friendship. The friendship included deep conversations about spirituality and faith in God. Soon Laura started attending a women's Bible study. Not long afterward she began coming to our church with her children. A while later her husband also came along. Eventually they were all baptized and joined our church.
Biblical teaching and discipleship training were all part of learning God's truth. But the truth was packaged in loving relationships. Laura and her family were loved into the church. This became more evident when Laura was diagnosed with a brain tumor and, after difficult months of treatment, she died. A small group still ministers in love to Laura's husband and family.
Speaking the truth in love means we need to get to know the people we are trying to reach. When our sharing is just a method without a relationship, it may be the truth, but it's missing the ingredient of love.
Spirit of God, you are the one who convicts people of sin. You alone can change people, and yet you use us to show your love to the people around us. Help us do that. In Jesus, Amen.