Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
Ephesians 4:11-16 illustrate teleios in a contrast:
And He Himself (Christ, 4:7) gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ – from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Emphasis added)
This is very important passage in presenting the mission of the church. When I say church I mean the collective Body of Christ, the individuals that make up the church universal. We all as individuals can impact one another with the effect of growth in Christ. Let’s take a closer look at this passage with the intent of applying it to our and other members of the Body in which we have influence.
And He Himself. This passage starts out with a literary device in the Greek that adds emphasis so we need to understand what Paul is emphasizing. It is Christ who is giving the means of growth, not man, not a system, not a ministry. Christ is both the source and the power behind Christian growth and he is going to tell us how He gifts the Body to accomplish His goal.
For the equipping of the saints; for the work of the ministry; for the edifying of the body of Christ; for the unity of the faith; and for the knowledge of the Son of God. The gifts Christ is giving should lead, when accepted and applied, the Body to a certain destination, and that being growth. But before perfection comes the process. There is equipping. There is ministry to do. There is building in faith, unity, and knowledge. All of these are important to the process of growth. All of these are helped along by those who use God’s gifts for the betterment and growth of the Body. Some people are more visible than others, but how I read my Bible all are as important because it is God’s plan done His way.
To a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. The end result of all of this is to form a perfect (teleios) member of the Body of Christ. Perfect here is more than spiritual maturity, but speaks of completeness or well-rounded Christian character. A worthy goal don’t you think? The beauty is in the process. The beauty is that God uses people like you and me to accomplish this process. The beauty is that growth is a result of a gift. How do you treat God’s gift? What are you doing with God’s gift?
To the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. This is what the perfection looks like. Full maturity can be measured and the measurement if Christ. We can measure our progress by seeing how God is making use more Christlike. The process continues until this measure is reached. It is a process. Continue moving forward. Help others. Allow yourself to be helped. Do not isolate yourself; growing is for those a part of the Body of believers, a group of like-minded people with the goal of becoming like Christ and being His gift to a world that needs Him. He needs maturing believers, those who stand out and attract others to Him.
That we should no longer be children. The contrast. What is a person not growing in Christ, not being perfected? They are children as compared to perfect. Though we all mature at different speeds most people can distinguish a 5 year old and a 75 year old. Maturity can be seen, it can be measured.
Tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting. Oh boy. Paul tells us that children, immature Christians, have no clue how to handle God’s revealed truth in the Bible. Bible illiteracy is running rampant in Christ in the West. This can only lead to immaturity, low or no growth, and a poor witness to a dying world. This is why I emphasize Bible study in my blogging. Know the Word and you know God and His will, period.
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head – Christ. With the Bible understood from study we apply it in love because we know love and are empowered to live in love. With love in place we have the purpose behind growth, and that is to love Christ and to love others.
I will take perfection (teleios) over being a child any day. Choose growth.