The Bible is full of metaphors concerning the concept of growth. Trees, seeds, and children are all mentioned to describe growth. In many of these metaphors, it can be easy to think of growth as a personal goal or achievement. However, it must be noted that although personal growth is important, said growth has a purpose beyond ourselves. That is, we are personally growing in order to aid the entire Body of Christ.
In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul expresses that Jesus gave apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers in order to build up the body towards the unity of faith. This unity is then described as the catalyst for the maturity of the body. Paul explains this maturity is needed in order to withstand human cunning and craftiness that may sway us from the truth. Paul then drives the practicality of the point home in Ephesians 4:15-16, “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.”
This passage paints a specific picture concerning the way in which the Church may grow into its purpose. Paul says we must speak the truth in love, and in order to do this, there must be a community. As the Church engages in a true community that creates a margin for the truth to be spoken freely, it provides growth into Jesus and away from self. Likewise, as the Church grows into Jesus, the parts of the body gain clarity on their roles and purposes, allowing the body to function properly in love.
It is of great importance to grow personally; however, it cannot be understated that in order for the Church to mature, there must be a growth of the community. As individuals get stronger in their personal faith, it must be passed and translated to others through the community for the express purpose of being a stronger, more mature body. In doing so, the Church will be able to fulfill Jesus’ purpose of spreading the Gospel to all nations.