Wednesday, March 07, 2012
Growing and Building Itself Up in Love
At a recent Bible study, we looked at Ephesians 4:15–16:
“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From 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.” (NIV 1984)
The word translated here as “ligament” (haphē, ἁφή) means a joint, a point of contact in the body, or a ligament. It has connotations both of touching closely, and of gripping tightly. The Bible is demanding a strong and intimate relationship between Christians here – all Christians, even those who are not of our tradition, or who are misguided on some issues, “for whoever is not against us is for us” and “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Even if we cannot, for valid reasons, participate in worship with some Christians, we must still love them, and it is good to join with them from time to time to celebrate what we share. Like Christmas carols, for example:
“O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
For Christ is born of Mary, and gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep their watch of wondering love.
O morning stars together, proclaim the holy birth,
And praises sing to God the King, and peace to men on earth!
How silently, how silently, the wondrous Gift is giv’n;
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of His Heav’n.
No ear may hear His coming, but in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still, the dear Christ enters in.
Where children pure and happy pray to the blessèd Child,
Where misery cries out to Thee, Son of the mother mild;
Where charity stands watching and faith holds wide the door,
The dark night wakes, the glory breaks, and Christmas comes once more.
O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!.” – “O Little Town of Bethlehem” by Phillips Brooks, 1867