“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until 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.” (Ephesians 4:11-13)
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians tells us that the gifts Jesus Christ has given to the church are people. People are God’s gifts to the Church. Some of these people are apostles, some are prophets, others are evangelists, and some are pastors and teachers.
There’s a purpose for God’s gift of people to the Church, namely, these people have been given to “equip his people for works of service.” The Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers are there for the purpose of equipping God’s people for service or ministry in order to build up the Body of Christ. Since one of the gifts is Evangelism, it’s safe to conclude that building “up” the Body of Christ also includes working to see it expand and be “built out.”
Furthermore, the purpose for God’s gift of people to the Church is that we may all reach unity. This is a special kind of unity – a unity in “the faith” and a unity in “the knowledge of the Son of God.” It is not a unity because we’re all part of the human race. That kind of unity can exist. But, the unity Paul is talking about in this passage is a unity that comes only because of a shared faith that is based in a shared “knowledge of the Son of God.”
This is the beauty of our Global South Fellowship. We come from many different tribes, languages, people, and nations. We have very different cultural backgrounds. We like different music. We even have different liturgical styles and churchmanship. But we have unity because of a shared common faith and a shared common knowledge of the Son of God. This is the basis upon which we can “walk together.”
This passage from Ephesians chapter 4 has been the basis of the Church of Uganda’s Provincial Theme for 2023, “United for service and growth.” There are so many obstacles to achieving a functional unity that leads to service and growth, and these obstacles are mostly rooted in the sin of Pride. This Advent season is a perfect opportunity to examine ourselves to consider how our desire for status and affirmation creates a sense of entitlement for us to be built up as an individual. It’s a season to examine ourselves to identify our inner obstacles that keep us from pouring ourselves out to serve and build up the Body of Christ in “the faith” and in “the knowledge of the Son of God.”
This Advent is a season to repent of self-serving and to surrender our pride in order to walk together to see the Body of Christ built up and expanded out in mission.
The Most Revd Stephen Kaziimba
Primate of The Church of the Province of Uganda