Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Ephesians 4:1-16 in the New International Version (NIV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: When I was in high school, I went on a mission trip to Fiji. We had one afternoon off to go to the beach. I grew up playing in the Pacific Ocean, so I knew the push and pull that ocean water can have. But this beach had waves like none other. I was a bit scrawnier back in high school which didn’t help my case. Even the biggest guys were getting pummeled by every single wave.
Not only were these waves powerful, but when they knocked you down, they knocked you under. You would come back up in a completely different place on the beach with eyes stinging from the salt water and muscles tired from fighting.
Paul contrasts being “children, tossed to and fro by the waves” (Ephesians 4:14) with “the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped” (Ephesians 4:16).
When you’re being tossed around by the waves, you are not connected with the ocean. It will move you around wherever it wants. Even an anchor on a boat is not fully connected to the ocean floor. Joints in the body not only keep everything held together, but they support our range of motion. We can run, jump, wave, and raise our arms in worship because of our joints.
Paul wants us to live not like we are in a wild ocean being tossed around and never rooted or connected; he wants us to live like a body connected by joints—and not stiff ones! (Stiff joints are a sign of rheumatoid arthritis and not of a healthy, happy, working body.) The purpose of a joint is always (at least) twofold: to connect and to allow movement.
I love Paul’s metaphor here. If I were talking to a group of kids at Boulder Church, I would probably bring in some cooked spaghetti noodles, some attachable train tracks, and a board to illustrate this point. We aren’t called to be limp, loosey-goosey spaghetti noodles just flopping around wherever and however. We also aren’t called to be as stiff as a board with no movement or bendability. We are called to be like train tracks that can bend and curve all the while being connected to and approaching a destination.
The idea of joints in the body is a reminder that overflow comes when we are active and moving. Without joints that allow a good range of motion, we would be stuck. We aren’t supposed to be tossed around like we would be in ocean waves, but we also shouldn’t be sticks in the mud.
Recalibrate: Have you ever experienced “stiff joints”? What helped you get your range of motion back?
Respond: Ask God for opportunities and people to help you exercise spiritually and to keep your joints and body healthy.
Research: Look up what causes stiff joints and what parallels there are in the spiritual body.
Remember: “Love should always make us tell the truth. Then we will grow in every way and be more like Christ, the head” (Ephesians 4:15 , CEV).
Jessyka Dooley is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church, leading Live Wonder (ages 0-3), Live Adventure (ages 4-11), and Live Purpose (ages 12-17), along with their supporting ministries. She grew up in Washington State and has a degree in theology from Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska. Jessyka has served in various areas of ministry, but her passion for discipling kids has taken center stage in her career.
Using paper and pencil or crayon, trace your little one’s hand and then let them trace yours over the top of theirs. Notice how much larger your hand is than theirs. Tell your little one how much they have grown and yet there is still so much growing to do. Know that we all need to grow up to be like the body that Paul is talking about in Ephesians 4:16.
Make an outline of your body on the pavement or on a large piece of paper. Fill the shape with words that encourage you to live love. Know that you are designed by God to live a life of love in your world. What words cheer you on the most? Use these words to cheer on the people around you.
A few years ago, I helped out as part of a campus ministries team. During one of our weekly meetings, a student on the team said something that struck me. He said, “The closer I draw to Christ, the easier it is to know His voice. The less time I spend with Him, the easier it is to believe the lies of the devil and the harder it becomes to know what God’s voice sounds like.” Have you ever felt that? Sometimes when you pray to God and ask for an answer you hear two voices? I feel that all the time, and it is hard to know what to believe sometimes. But I’ve found what that student said to be true in my life. When we as believers speak truth to one another and when we take time to be with God, it becomes easier to discern His voice above all the noise. What are some ways that you can practice being still and knowing His voice?