“…Holding fast to the Head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God.” Colossians 2:19

Our verse is one of many between Ephesians and Colossians that reflects the need for harmonious cooperation among the entire membership if there is going to be real growth in the local church (Colossians 2:2; Ephesians 2:19–22 and 4:11–16). The harmony is to resemble the working of a vibrant human body, not a body that has a trick hip, arthritis, or bodily systems going awry. I have always found it instructive that the Bible illustration of a healthy church at work is not that of a family. As we all know, both close and extended families can exhibit great disharmony and yet we have come to think of that condition as normal. If we take the same approach to church harmony we will assume “family disharmony” is all there is to church unity (get along because we will have a grand reunion in Heaven). God uses the picture of a healthy human body to illustrate what He desires to craft in every church.

First, local church growth demands a clear view of the Source of church growth. Every member must realize that Christ is the Head of the church and the personal Head of every Christian in it. Our text emphasizes the role of the Lord in true church growth. Every believer is to live in conscious oneness with Jesus Christ (Romans 6:5). As Horatius Bonar said, “So shall no part of day or night from sacredness be free, but all my life, in every step, be fellowship with Thee.” Philippians 1:21 reads, “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”

Second, local church growth demands a clear view of my role. Colossians 2:2f reads, “That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” To “knit together” means to coalesce, to force to unite. Though we like to think we get to choose our local church, God indicates it is His choice for us. My role is determined by His choice and by His circumstances for me.

The idea of harmony is known to us from the world of music. Several different instruments get bound together by a single piece of music, they are fitted to one another, closely associating the various strengths and weaknesses, for the sake of the harmony of the musical selection. Ephesians 4:15f states, “…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.” Fitly framed, as the KJV puts it, means every member in its place, by God’s design and direction (1 Corinthians 12:21). Knit together means brought and held together, picturing mental unity, sympathy, and accord.

Thirdly, local church growth demands a clear, personal job description. Ephesians 4:16 speaks of “what every joint supplies.” God works local church growth through every joint! The joint is literally a band or connecting link. Anything which binds, fastens, and secures. In the human body we think of blood vessels, tendons, muscles and ligaments. It is through the agency of the fully functioning Christian that life is supplied to the body. This ministry is to be performed through grace given by God to each church member.

From this internal look at the human body and its workings, several observations are readily drawn. No one is dispensable until God calls him or her home. All church members contribute something to the body and affect other members of the body (like crossing your legs too long will cause your foot to fall asleep!). Keeping your place in the body is imperative for body health, and for healthy body life to continue, therefore, don’t quit!

Fourthly, local church growth demands clear progress. The goal God gives for every local church is found in Ephesians 2:20f: “…Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone in whom the whole building, being fitted together [closely joined]wak, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Every Christian, together with their local assembly, is to contribute to each local church so that it becomes a permanent, devoted place for the presence of the Lord!

Back in Ephesians 4:16, reference is made to “what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth….” “Effective working” is God’s operative energy; nobody is useless! The share of every part is the capacity of everybody, every part, to its fullest. John Calvin said, “If we want to be considered members of Christ, let no man be anything for himself, but let us all be whatever we are for the benefit of each other.”

Lastly, local church growth demands clear results. Ephesians 4 speaks of increase of the body. Only when each part is working properly does the body receive the support it needs and it will naturally edify itself in love! Are you spiritually receiving from God to your capacity? Are you fulfilling your function in your local church? Is vital energy within you or are you a disjointed Christian? Are you causing pain in other parts of the body? Ask God to reset you for usefulness so that His local church may grow! Trust and obey.