I enjoyed working with David's difficult story last week but it feels good to come back to the NT and Ephesians 4, one of my favorite passages. I used it in my theory of Christian ed., about our responsibility for helping each other grow "into the One. ." But this week I was surprised to look deeper into the Greek (thanks to some exegetical writing by G. Porter Taylor in Feasting On The Word) and spent some time with the word καταρτισμον. Here's the definition I found that echoes Taylor's summary, "a process of adjustment that results in a complete preparedness". But that didn't go deep enough so I went to other sources including Zerwick and found the reference to setting a broken bone. So equipping is about alignment or even getting adjusted by the chiropractor. hmmm
Being in alignment with God is one of my favorite metaphors because I hate it when my car gets out of alignment and veers out of the lane. Perhaps because I am all too likely to be using only one hand. (They passed the law against texting while driving for me. I don't do it now.) Currently I think my car pulls a little to the left, which can take you into the stripes of the road, or the little raised reflectors. When I hear the thump, thump, thump of tire over reflector it's time to straighten up- and quickly.
Maybe that's what the author of Ephesians is doing, providing a bit of a 'thump, thump' warning for us and reminding us to 'straighten up'. Yet Taylor points out that its not us who do the aligning. God is the master mechanic, all we can do is make ourselves as pliable as possible. This concept challenges my theory of Christian education a bit. How do we loosen our tight grip on life and become more pliable so God can align us?
The rest of the letter may help by reminding us that we are in community and meant to live that way. "Walking the life"( περιπατησαι ) together and practicing the rituals of our faith. When we participate together, worship together, commune together we are bound to soften up and be better prepared for Divine alignment.
Now I'm imaging the bumper cars of communal life softening us up with lots of jerking around. I think that will be another post someday.