Ephesians 4:7-13. (NIV)
7But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high,
he led captives in his train
and gave gifts to men.”
9(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? 10He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) 11It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13until 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.
One body, one faith, one baptism, one church, but many gifts of God’s grace. And once again, God’s desire is for us to attain the entire fullness of Christ. We are to be not merely God’s representatives on Earth, but his physical body on Earth, and yet without extinguishing our own selves. Looking at the actual lives of the apostles, it’s clear that Paul is not calling for the church to become a collection of remotely operated drones. The Spirit of God lives fully in me, but I am still me. I am more genuinely myself in Christ than I ever was without him, because I am no longer a slave to sin. I have more free will now than I did before I knew him. And yet at the same time, and without contradiction, I, along with my brothers and sisters, am God’s physical body.
According to this passage, the complete fullness of Christ is not given instantaneously. It’s something we attain as we become one in faith and in knowledge of Christ. Christ’s fullness in us comes out of our unity in him. The gifts and calling Christ gives us – the passage mentions apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers – are given for this very purpose. The end of unity in Christ is that all of his fullness will be manifest in us.