Today is Ascension Day.
At church we’ve been spending the past few months thinking through how we might best work in ministry together Along the way one of the Bible passages we keep returning to is this one:
Eph. 4:7-13 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”
9 (What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10 He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 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.
Elsewhere we learn that the Spirit pours out his gifts upon the entire church for the common good (1Cor. 12:4-7) but what is interesting here is that the gift Paul has in mind in this immediate context is what we might call the word ministries; apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor-teachers. It is these teaching ministries that “equip his people for works of service”.
It is, of course, wrong to think of those who do not have work ministry gifts as somehow being “lesser” (c.f. 1Cor. 12:21ff), but at the same time we should also recognise that some of the gifts are foundational; the other acts of service rely on them since the teaching gifts equip the saints for those acts of service.
All of this is in the wisdom of the ascended Jesus.
In the meantime, while you’re chewing on that…