It is Memorial Day evening and the thousands of cars are heading into the cities from every direction. People have enjoyed the Memorial Day Weekend in a wide variety of settings. That’s the way it should be, and then there is the out-of-touch with reality Paul of Tarsus. Somehow he never takes into consideration the importance of three-day weekends that begin and later end the lazy, hazy days of summer. He never talks about the importance of “getting away” and enjoying life. If anything, Paul of Tarsus just seems too serious.
Take into consideration what he had to say in Ephesians 4:11-13: “The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.”
Can you imagine that the job of pastors is not to keep the ship of the church floating and in the black on the financial page? Can you imagine that the job of pastors is not even to preach stirring sermons and to make people feel good? Paul of Tarsus says that the job of the pastor/teach is to “equip the saints.” The word equip in the Greek is the same word for mending nets of fishermen. In other words, the pastor/teach is to mend the nets of the lives of the congregation so that they, the members of the church, can do two things: “the work of ministry” and secondly “build up the body of Christ.” The members of the church are to do the work of ministry in the world, the same work that Jesus did in meeting the needs of people and proclaiming the word that the Kingdom of God had arrived. Then secondly the members of the church are to be able to build one another up, encourage and support one another. All of that is no small task.
How long do members of the church have to do all this work? “Until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity…” In other words, it sounds as if we are to continue in these tasks for the rest of our lives. There isn’t even retirement!
In addition to a life’s work ahead of us, this Apostle and also Tent-Maker gave the standard of maturity: “to the measure of the full stature of Christ.” We get to measure our lives against Christ’s! That doesn’t seem fair, but since it is His Spirit working in us to accomplish this goal, maybe it is fair and right.
I have no question that three day weekends, vacations, and just “getting away” once in a while is really important, but it is even more important for all of us to remember the very purpose of our life in Christ and the goal of growing into maturity in Christ.