If my function is the result of striving, if I’m uptight about my function, and if I lack confidence in God’s enablement, my functioning is not of faith and my feeling of importance is false. If faith doesn’t well up in those who hear me, and if fruit isn’t born through my function as a member of the body, it lacks faith.
GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
We need to consider growth and maturity as we reflect on our proper function in Christ’s body: Am I evaluating my ministry (service, function) in the body of Christ based upon a realistic appraisal of my development in Christ?
We begin our life in the natural realm as babies. Why should we consider it will be any different spiritually? None of us is born physically mature. It is the same spiritually. Spiritual growth takes time and is often painful. Since we are all to function properly and this function has a part in making us grow maturity isn’t required to begin functioning properly.
Our difficulty in grasping this often comes from confusing our proper function with our apparent present contribution to the body. A baby isn’t going to be able to contribute as much to the Church’s growth as a mature person serving as an elder. A two year-old can’t carry as much weight as a twenty-year old. A five-year-old girl cannot bear children. A boy of seven years cannot run the affairs of state. However, each of these can function properly in their respective places and roles in the home and society.
Many of us have the false idea that we are qualified to contribute major ministry in the assembly because we are a member of the body, without regard to our “spiritual age.” This is not true. The New Testament teaches that the Church only looks to seasoned and mature elders for substantial ministry in matters of church government. The younger men (“neophytes” or novices) were not allowed such a place of responsibility in the Church until later in their lives (1 Timothy 3:6).
Because we aren’t all mature or “seasoned” doesn’t mean that we don’t all have a valuable contribution to make to the life and growth of the body. But just as in the natural realm where leaders and great men of today were yesterday’s unable children, so it is in the spiritual realm! Just as certainly as a journeyman carpenter qualifies only after years of apprenticeship, so it is in the Church.
Now the question arises, “What is all of this talk about proper functioning, and grace to minister having been given to all if it is only possible for those who are mature?” Prominent ministry such as teaching, preaching, and government constitutes only a small percentage of the body’s functions. Think of where your body would be if only the heart, brain, and liver functioned properly. Again, can a fourth grader function as fully in his position as a university student does in his? Of course he can! Can an infant function as well in his place of maturity, as an astute businessman does in his? Why certainly!