The call to serve, grow and mature is a corporate undertaking. Growing together as the body of Christ is an others-centered pursuit of growth for the maturity of the entire body.
One for all, all for one. While this declaration and motto of The Three Musketeers is not in the Bible, it is a principle of unity found in the New Testament. The concept of this motto is that the one supports and is dedicated to and lives for the good of everyone within the group and the group supports and is dedicated to and lives for the good of the one. The deep bond of love, trust, commonality of purpose, beliefs and goals strengthens the resolve of dedication to one another, placing the good of another above and before one’s own interests and profit/gain. It’s a living out of a surrendered life that sacrifices for others. This is the way of the body of Christ. We grow together maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This theme is woven through the New Testament.
If you are a Christian it is likely that you would agree that spiritual disciplines are essential to spiritual growth. Our growth as believers is directly related to our personal training; study of the Bible, prayer, fasting, journaling etc. As 1 Tim. 4:7 says, we are to train ourselves for godliness. The purpose of our training is not to be trained. The Pharisees were well trained in spiritual disciplines. They were trained and displayed their piety as a performance for all to see and admire. But God calls us beyond the exercise of these disciplines to a heart and mind transformation. It is through these disciplines that we become more like Jesus in desires, affections and character. It’s the process of becoming what Christ has already made us. Though we are positionally righteous through the person and work of Jesus, we grow experientially into that position which will never be fully attained this side of heaven.
In society today, personal growth and development has become a multi-million dollar industry. People from all backgrounds, professions and vocations are pursuing personal development for career and life. This focus on self improvement can be a selfish endeavor. Generally speaking, the desire to become a better me or live my best life now is for my own personal gain. This is the way of the world.
God gives us a higher reason to pursue personal growth and development. The call to serve, grow and mature is a corporate undertaking. Growing together as the body of Christ is an others-centered pursuit of growth for the maturity of the entire body.
Ephesians 4:11-15 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ 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 truth in love, we are to grow up in every way to him who is the head into Christ, from who 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.
God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love for us made us alive together with Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5). We are His body; the bride of Christ. We have an obligation, born out of that great love, to grow up and mature in Christ that goes far beyond personal development. It is our duty, our act of devotion to Christ and our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. As believers and followers of Jesus, we must set our hearts on knowing Him and growing up in every way into Him. Personal growth leads to corporate growth. When we work together for the maturity of one body we take responsibility for one another and help each other grow up into Christ who is the head. When we use our God-given gifts, talents and resources to encourage one another toward Christ-likeness, we build one another up and mature as others around us are also building one another up and maturing. We grow and mature together.
When a group of naturally imperfect, self-centered people are joined together in any group, it gets complicated by personalities, passions and deceitful desires. He died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Cor. 5:15) He died that we might no longer have to live for ourselves. Only by the work of the Spirit are we able to put off the old self, be renewed in the spirit of our minds and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (Eph. 4:22-24) It is only then that we can speak the truth with our neighbors because we are members of one anther. (Eph.4:25)
If we are to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called (Eph. 4:1), we must be prepared to walk it with our brothers and sisters in Christ. This walk is marked by direction, effort, purpose and progress. It is characterized by humility, truth in love, gentleness, patience and a bearing with one another. It is made possible only by the outpouring of God’s abundant grace. It’s not a mindless, casual stroll in the park. It’s an intentional, others-centered walk toward unity and maturity in Christ.
Believers are called to live in unity together. There is one body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (Ephesians 4:4). I must be devoted to growing, maturing and living for Christ because I am constrained and compelled by His love for me and my beholden, reciprocating love for him. I can only consider and commit my self to this great call of “until we all attain…” (Ephesians 4:11) because of His great love and sufficient grace.
One for all, all for one.