Ephesians 4:1. I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
After three chapters gloriously describing WHO we are in Christ Paul turns to HOW we are to respond. How we are to walk. To live. And how to live within our calling.
What is our calling?
Sometimes we think of our calling as the very individualistic and specific plan that God might have for our life. “I am called to be a pastor,” we might say. Or we may think we are called to a certain ministry or vocation. But this is not what Paul is talking about.
Every Christian has the same calling – our union with Christ.
Since union with Christ is every Christian’s calling and our covenant promise, we must all learn to walk worthy of that calling together.
What does walking worthy of our calling look like?
The answer is unity.
Ephesians 4:2-3. 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
First, before anything else is said, the place the Apostle begins this whole discussion (which will last for three more chapters) is unity. It’s a unity that we already have because we are IN CHRIST – it’s our calling.
Our unity is nothing new. It’s been the theme of the whole letter so far. There is no division in Christ. Jews and Gentiles are “one new man.” One kingdom, one family, one building, one temple, one dwelling place of God.
Notice Paul is not telling us to obtain unity but to maintain unity. Pursue it. Grow it. Make it top priority in your life and in your church. But how? What does it take for us to maintain our unity? The character of Christ:
- Humility – self forgetfulness. Not being concerned with your own concerns. Emptying the self of the self.
- Gentleness – strength under control. Not asserting your own rights or privileges.
- Patience – bearing with difficult people.
- Love – God’s love for us produces unity. Any love that does not produce unity is a fake. Any unity without love won’t stand the test of time and will crumble under the pressure of conflict.
- Peace – “Christ himself is our peace” (2:14). Peace with God produces peace with each other.
Why is unity the calling that we must walk in?
Why is unity such a big deal? Because the Trinity is a big deal.
Ephesians 4:4-6. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Our eternal hope is union with a diverse yet united God, the Trinity. Therefore we can maintain our unity here and now. As long as we stay focused on what is most important – God.
Look at this list of things that every Christian has in common: the Father, the Lord (Jesus), and the Spirit, and our body, hope, faith, and baptism. Is there anything you can think of that would supplant the Trinity? Anything bigger than God’s salvation that should be allowed to divide us?
But let’s go deeper. Why maintain unity? Yes, it is an expression of the unity of the Trinity and God’s salvation but more specifically it is an expression of the glory of Christ.
Ephesians 4:13. until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,
This is it.
The goal of all of life…and faith…and Christianity.
Attaining to the fullness of Christ.
The church is the fullness of God (1:23). And at the same time we are growing together in our experience of the fullness of God (3:19). What does the fullness of God look like in human form? It looks like Jesus Christ (Col. 1:19).
Oh yeah it also looks like us.
It looks like our unity. Our love. Our humility. Our peace. Why is unity our walk? Why is it our calling? Because it is the expression of the fullness of the glory of Jesus Christ and his indwelling life in us as we grow up into him.
Ephesians 4:15-16. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
into him….from whom – Christ is both the goal and the source of our growth. The end and the beginning.
His life is our calling. And we must walk worthy of his life. Not as our “to-do list.” But as a joyous partnership with his life. His truth and love are the gospel, the good news. Not a burden to bear, but a promise to be claimed. Because we have in us the truth of Christ and the love of Christ we can now be truthing in love (the literal translation of 4:15). We can live lives of truth and of love that will grow us together into our Head. Into Jesus. Into unity. Into “to live is Christ.”
Take us O Lord and all we have known
Shape us O Lord and form us into your own