“…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 4:14-16
“All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:18-20
These are the verses that will guide our coming District Convention and the triennium that follows. Since our last Convention in 2018, we have continued the theme “Reconciled in Christ, For the World,” based on 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 which calls for us to be reconciled to God and one another, and to serve as reconcilers to those around us. In some ways, that theme of unity continues in Ephesians 4. Paul speaks of the bond of peace, one body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one baptism, one God and Father. All of this is God’s gift of unity as the Body of Christ.
Your unity with Christ is a gift. Your unity in the Body of Christ with fellow believers is a gift. Not being tossed by every wind of doctrine is a gift. Growing up into Him is a gift.
In both 2 Corinthians 5 and in Ephesians 4, God is working in you and God is working through you. I need each one of you, just as you need me. We need one another. The Body of Christ is critical for our faith, life, and eternal life. People need pastors. Pastors need people. People need people. We need one another.
Paul takes up this theme again in 1 Corinthians 12. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you.’” Too often the Church reflects the independence idolized in our culture by saying, “I don’t need you. I don’t have to listen to you.” And the Church reflects the rejection predominating in our society and world by demanding, “If you don’t agree with me, you are not welcome here.”
God’s Word reminds us of the opposite. We need people to challenge our self-talk. We need others as we wrestle with God’s Word. It is too easy to get caught up only listening to voices that think like we do. I was listening to an author the other day who said, “If everyone is thinking the same thing, chances are, no one is doing much thinking.”
Paul holds all of this in tension in Ephesians 4. Unity, leadership, false voices, deceitful schemes, speaking the truth in love, our need for the whole Body of Christ working together—each part equipped, each part working properly—the Body growing, building itself up in love.
Yes, there are false voices clamoring for our attention and for our hearts. We need each other to sound out the truth and hold us fast from false winds and waves. Yes, we get caught listening to our own false thoughts. We need each other to help keep God’s truth, love, and grace clear.
Our Convention theme focuses then on these three words: Growing + Building + Reaching.
God grows us in His Word. God grows us in maturity of faith. God builds us as His body to strengthen one another, to equip one another, to lead each part of the body in its individual work, and to grow in our work together as we build one another up in love. And God works in us to reach out to those who do not yet know Jesus.
Hopefully GBR can take on a meaning beyond Go Big Red. In Christ, we are growing, building, and reaching as His body, the Church.
Rev. Richard Snow, President, Nebraska District LCMS
Originally printed in the April/May 2022 Nebraska District Reporter