What He Gives, To Equip, Build Up and Attain

I was recently reading through Ephesians 4:11-16, and noticed that when writing this down in a different way helps grasp the concept better I think. Something usually helpful with Paul’s writing considering his long sentence structures. Hope this helps.

And He gave:

  • the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers:
    • to equip the saints for the work of ministry
    • for building up the body of Christ
  • until we all attain:
    • to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God
    • to mature manhood
    • to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
  • so that we may no longer be children:
    • tossed to and fro by the waves and
    • carried about by every wind of doctrine,
    • by human cunning,
    • by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
  • Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to 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.” (Ephesians 4:11-16)

What struck me in this section is that it all starts with the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers who apparently have two tasks within the body to bring to whole body to maturity in Christ (meaning no longer children), and that a major key in this is to speak the truth in love in order to build the body up in love. Another major key is that the whole section starts off by saying that it is Jesus who gives.

Flat Tire, Elated Grace

Flat Tire
Last week Monday started out as any other regular Monday. I got out of bed a bit later than intended, but still early enough to call it really early. After the usuals I walked down to my car, got in, started the engine, started the CD player (Dream Theater’s latest is a great way to wake up), backed out of the parking lot and was on my way to work. By the second turn I noticed something was not right. It felt like I was leaning a bit to the right and when making a turn it felt weird. I turned the CD player off, drove on, and found out quickly that I had a flat tire on the right front. The road I was on did not give me any possibilities to make a full turn and drive the 500 meters back home, so I decided to try to make it to the closest gas station, driving on 20 km/h with the alarm lights on (good thing it was 6 am in the morning with the road being empty). I barely managed to reach it. My aim was to try to put some air in the tire, drive to my car dealer one kilometer down the road and have them fix it for me. Yet, no such luck. For some reason I could not get any air in the tire, so I decided to park my car at the gas station (with the aim to come back there in the afternoon to replace the flat tire with the spare) and make my way to work with public transport. Think this a bad start of the week? Read on.

During the summer months they are doing some maintenance (for the new North/South connection) on the metro track between Amstelveen and Amsterdam. Now, normally I could easily hop on the metro and within 25 minutes plus a 5 minute walk be at my work, but now I had to take a bus to station South/WTC (20 minutes), take the train to Duivendrecht (10 minutes), take the metro to Spaklerweg (5 minutes) and then walk 5 minutes to work. All in all, about a one hour ordeal. Think this a bad start to of the week? Read on.

At work I called my car dealer and asked if I could come by this afternoon to get my tire fixed (meaning get the flat tired replaced and put the spare back in the trunk). They told me they would have to look if they had the tire on stock and would call me back, which they never did. At the end of my working day I made my way back to the gas station in the same manner as that morning, yet I accidentally took the wrong metro back (and I only noticed that when I was one stop away from the final stop – which meant adding another 25 minutes of traveling), and was ready for a first time ever replacing of a flat tire. My lovely wife was so sweet to come and support me (having more experience and expertise in this field). So, we jacked the car, removed the flat tire, got the spare out of the trunk, but when trying to put it on we realized quickly that the spare tire (which had been in my trunk for 10 years!) did not fit as the spaces between the screw holes were different. So, I called the Mitsubishi Service Desk, and their advice was to tow my car, which I really didn’t want as it would take a long time and cost a lot of money, so I gracefully declines their offer. Instead I decided to retry putting air in my flat tire (which failed before when it was still on my car) and see how fast it deflated. This was successful and it didn’t deflate immediately, so I decided to quickly put the “flat tire” back on my car, and drive as quickly as possible to my car dealer so they could take care of the problem. Think this a bad start of the week? Read on.

The car dealer told me that they did not have my type of tire on stock so they needed to order it and would come in a day later. Considering I couldn’t do much about this I had to accept the situation, and left my car there overnight. But then, they called me on Tuesday that they made a mistake in the order and I had to wait another day for the tire to come in. This means now three days in a row taking the huge public transport 60+ minutes detour to work (instead of a 12-minute car ride). Oh well, not much I could do. So, on Wednesday I waited and waited for a phone call from the dealer telling me that my car was all fixed again, but it never came. So I went to the car dealer at the end of the day, and I saw that my car was ready, but just didn’t call me. Lucky enough I was able to get my car back, yet I still don’t have a new spare tire in the trunk (considering the current one is useless).

Elated Grace
So, long story but where’s the grace? Well, obviously not getting a flat tire while driving is grace. Not getting in either an accident or my flat tire running off the wheel while driving to the gas station is grace. But, “real” grace happened on Monday afternoon on the way back home with the public transport. Remember I told you I got on the wrong metro? Well, it turned out that when I ended up at the end of the wrong line and got on the metro back to my original stop I was minding my own business, staring out the window, when all of a sudden next to me a guy stood up and started preaching (proclaiming Jesus!) right in the middle of the metro. It was a big African-American guy with an old-fashioned King James Bible in his hand. Now I have sort of a love/hate relationship with street preachers because I don’t know who they are and what they’re up to, but this guy was something else! He didn’t do the usual “you’re all gonna burn in hell” preaching, but showed a genuine heart for the people in the metro, sharing the Good News of Jesus with passion and love, then starting singing a hymn, and ended his time with a powerful prayer which literally brought him to his knees. I was impressed!

We happened to get off at the same stop, and when I walked passed him he asked me what I thought of the words he spoke. I shook his hands and said: “Amen, brother! Jesus Christ is LORD!” I could see the complete surprise on his face. Here we are, in the heart of the “black” district in Amsterdam, and a white guy says he loves Jesus. We started talking and I found out that he is an American missionary, who’s been in Amsterdam for about a month, started a church in Amsterdam South-East (called “New Wine Christian Center”) and his main ministry is metro preaching, which he has been doing for years in different parts of the world. It was really great to see a brother with so passion for the Bible. We ended up exchanging contact details. I thanked God for sending me intentionally in the wrong direction so I could meet this guy.

So, although it was obviously quite a bad Monday and following, I think I will treasure this meeting for the rest of my life as a beautiful moment of experiencing God’s grace, sovereignty and presence in my life.

Paraphrase #2 – The Way of Love

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not Jesus, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have a prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not Jesus, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not Jesus, I gain nothing.

Jesus is patient and kind; Jesus does not envy or boast; Jesus is not arrogant or rude. Jesus does not insist on His own way; Jesus is not irritable or resentful; Jesus does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Jesus bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Jesus never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when Jesus comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

So now faith, hope, and Jesus abide, these three; but the greatest of these is Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-13)