You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know the importance of gravity. Without it, we would float away into cosmic darkness. Gravity holds the planets in a circular motion, without projecting them out like a slingshot. Gravity balances the small ligaments and fluid in our inner ear to help us walk. Gravity aids good bone growth and strong muscles, while at the same time reminding us that jumping high is an athletic feat. It has purpose and meaning. It is critical and necessary.
Still, we do all in our power to defy gravity. It’s been in our bones since the early years of civilization. The Wright brothers literally broke ground with the first-of-its-kind, practical, fixed-wing aircraft. Their ingenuity made way for numerous other aircrafts to follow even today. The airline industry has made long-distance travel more efficient. With the advancement of shuttles and rockets, we can now lift ourselves into space and out of the sphere of the earth’s gravitational power. We have, in a real sense, defied gravity, albeit with good intent.
In the same way, God’s gravitational force—His power to join and hold together the church—is rich with purpose and meaning. It is in no way accidental or by coincidence. It has design, balance, intention, and effect. God’s gravity glorifies Him and causes good for those who love Him. It brings order, harmony, and light.
At the same time, there are some who make every effort to defy the Lord’s gravity, desiring to be loosed from His sovereign attraction. There are some who belong near the “galactic center” and yet invent ways to lift themselves away. Sadly, there are even some who never enjoy the benefits of God’s power because their desire for “space exploration” is constantly pulling them outside of God’s will.
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 4:15-16
Matured Like an Adult
With God, nothing is without purpose. “The Lord has made everything for its purpose,” yes, “even the wicked for the day of trouble” (Prov. 16:4). This is an inescapable reality for a being who is both omnipotent and omniscient. You might say God can’t help but do all things with purpose, even if it is simply to make Himself happy. But, in His inexhaustible wisdom, He infuses even the smallest of things with great purpose.
This was no foreign idea to Paul. He began his letter to Ephesus, as well as many others, by highlighting the sovereign purposes of God: “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” (Eph. 1:1). God’s perfect purposes were put together long before anything was made. He chose His church “before the foundation of the world” to be “holy and blameless before him” (Eph. 1:4). Paul used “predestined” to describe how God pieced together our existence. In doing so, He instills purpose. He designs us with a destination in mind. All things are according to God’s purpose—His will, His end (Eph. 1:11).
The Lord is joining and holding us together for a very specific purpose. While we are “speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way” (Eph. 4:15). Maturity, or growing up, is the purpose of God’s gravity. When the instrument of truth and love is at work, the church is matured in every way. He likens it to the development of the human body. There is a time when it comes to its full age and competence. It is the peak of a person’s life.
Built Like a House
There is a more noticeable metaphor Paul used when describing the perfecting work of God’s gravity. It is the concept of a building, one of Paul’s favorite metaphors for the church. Earlier in the same letter, Paul employed this picture for good use:
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.Ephesians 2:19-22
Peter borrowed the same idea. He taught that the church was the building of God and that Christ was the “living stone” that was rejected by those not in the church (1 Peter 2:4). “You yourselves, like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house,” which is to emphasize the idea of worship as Paul did, “to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). Truth, saturated in love, creates a building agent that fortifies and structures a living community of God that is perfect and mature.
In ancient times, homes were not built of concrete and brick like they are today. They were built from the foundation up by stone—one by another and on another. Each stone, when it is laid with the next, is reinforced to increase in strength and competence. Unlike today, aesthetics were of little consequence compared to the building’s stability and resilience. This is the idea behind us being built up in every way.
It is no coincidence that Jesus promised to build His church on the rock (or foundation) of the gospel—the good news of Himself (Matt. 16:18). There is nothing that will stop the Lord from finishing what He started. His power will eternally join and hold together His church until she is matured in every way. In our next post, we will look at the model of God’s gravity and see what the fullness of maturity looks like for His church. Until then, consider how you might be a living stone in the building of God.
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