Whole body, whole heart, whole mind – Ephesians 4:13
In the first century it was an apostolic priority that churches grew in Christian maturity. Not simply individuals but whole churches. In a lot of cases twenty first century churches have lost that vision. When modern preachers stand in front of a church they may be being realistic if they assume they are speaking to gathered individuals, not the unified body of Christ who all consider they are living under the same shared calling. Frequently congregations listen holding back judgement as to whether they are individually included in the message. There can be a reserved skepticism that wants to leave to personal discretion as to whether the message is asking too much of them or is too inconvenient. Now it is true that the New Testament carries many warnings about not being subject to false teaching that may arise within the church including this week’s passage when Paul cautions the Ephesians not to be ‘tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.’ v14 But let us assume we know the preacher is a careful, balanced student of the bible and not subject to extreme positions. Why then is there such a tendency to not fully commit? Listening to bible teaching or reading Christian literature can become an inner battle between heart and mind. Jesus urged us to fully commit with both heart and mind and in doing so quoted Deutoronomy 6:5 in Mathew 22:37, ‘And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”’ All our soul, heart and mind is clearly not a Sunday only, or even length of sermon only, matter. It is a whole life issue. The command was given not to individuals but to a whole people, the people of God collectively. God’s judgement, when the people were not obedient, came on all the people not just on a select few although the leadership took the greater responsibility. So how is a church to behave so that they can grow in whole obedience?