“[T]o 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. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.” Ephesians 4: 11-16
This last weekend I had the opportunity to spend some time with some of our folks in formation. One group was a part of our School for Formation Integration Retreat, the other was the Peer Ministry Retreat for young people in ECMN. Recently, I wrote about how important formation is for each of us in our faith journey to, as Paul wrote to the faith community in Ephesus, “equip the saints for the work of ministry.”
What I shared at both gatherings is the critical role that health plays in our formation: mind, body, and soul. It is so easy for all of us to get so consumed with our daily lives that we don’t take care of ourselves. When this occurs, we know the serious implications that can take place. To say that we are not able to be our best selves is putting it mildly. Frankly, when we don’t take care of ourselves, we are unable to live into the fullness of who God is calling us to be. The consequences of not tending to the health of our minds, our bodies, and our souls are almost always wide-spread.
Paul was acutely aware of this. He clearly found a faith community where individuals’ behavior, how they treated each other, was affecting the work of the Gospel. Unhealthy people in the community were being misled, if not downright manipulated, in a way that was not the Way of Jesus—not the way of love. Presiding Bishop Curry often describes the opposite of love not as hate, but as selfishness. When our motives are bent towards benefitting ourselves, we have walked away from the Way of Jesus—away from the way of love.
In fact, what Paul unequivocally makes clear is that when those in the body live in an unhealthy way, in a selfish way, then we are called to speak the truth in love. Not shaming or condemning the other, for they, too, are a child of God, but rather speaking in love, and because of love telling the truth about their behavior and its impact on the body—“promoting the body’s growth in building up itself in love.”
In this Epiphany season, when we continue to open ourselves to the way that Jesus is being made known in our midst, one of the best ways that we may do so is to be healthy and to promote health by “speaking the truth in love.”