I don’t know how you can look at the world and not think it’s a mess. And even as we look at our own lives, we can see the mess we have made of things. This world we live in, and our very lives are broken and incomplete. There is only one thing that can make us whole, and that’s Christ.
And that’s why he came. It says in verses 9-10 that he descended to this earth as a man, dying on a cross for our sins. He then conquered death, rising from the dead, and ascended into heaven. And what was the purpose of all this? That he might fill all things. That he might fill all people, healing their broken lives, and filling in the emptiness of their hearts. And that he might ultimately bring healing to this whole creation broken by sin.
Paul says in verse 8,
When [Jesus] ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.
Who were those captives? Some people think it was the spiritual powers that he conquered. But I think rather that he captured those who were in bondage to sin, and led them into the kingdom of God, giving them gifts. What kind of gifts. One, of course is eternal life. Another is the Holy Spirit that he gives to each believer who fills us and renews us day by day, making us more like Christ. A third is the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers that he has put in our lives.
The apostles such as Peter and Paul originally brought us the gospel, the prophets share his message to us to admonish and encourage us, the evangelists were the ones that brought us to Christ, and the pastors and teachers help care for us spiritually, teaching us about Christ, and helping lead us in the way we should go.
But they are not meant to do all the work. Rather, again, they were gifts to us from God. For what purpose?
To prepare God’s people (that’s us) for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (12-13)
In other words, we are all called to build each other up, helping each other grow in faith, helping each other to know Jesus better, and as a result become mature. Not simply as individual Christians, but as his church, made like Christ in every way, and touching this world around us so that he might fill all things.
It’s interesting, Paul literally says the church is to become “a full grown man.” Not full grown people. But a full grown man. That is to say, we are not simply to be a collection of individuals who are mature in Christ. But we are to become one body, Christ’s body, mature and complete.
What’s the contrast?
The contrast is to be a bunch of individual infants, tossed back and forth by the waves of life, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching that the world gives (14).
But that is not what we are to be.
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (15-16)
And as we do, we as the church and as individuals will become complete in him. And through us, he will start to fill and restore all things.