“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1–3).
Paul saw the church as a body. When healthy, the body can run and jump and move with ease.
When sick, the body is hindered from moving the way the mind wishes. Paul saw the church this way, with Christ as the head and believers as the body. This vision is the Spirit’s way of giving us a vision of what could be. If the church is healthy, operating in the specific ways Paul will write of in this next passage, then we will be able to execute the mission Christ has given us. If we are unhealthy, we will be slowed in the mission of Christ, unable to bear the fruit we otherwise would. To Paul, the health of the body is of paramount importance.
We should note that the beginning of Ephesians 4 marks a new section of the letter.
In this second half of the letter, Paul sought to apply the grand truths of the first. He had seen and written of the way in which the blood of Christ paved a way for unification with God, but also unification with one another. Now he seeks to bring those great truths to bear on the everyday life of the Christian. Before he does, though, he gives a general thought: “I therefore, a prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1).
The "calling" to which we have "been called" is the subject matter of Ephesians 1-3. Paul urges the church to live in a manner worthy of that calling. The word “worthy” means “equal weight.” Our calling should be in balance with, of the same weight as, our lifestyle. Paul sees a body of believers living in harmony with the great gospel by which they have been saved.
In giving the church this plea, Paul gave the church an vital criterion: walk worthy of your calling.
In the flow of everyday life, there will be moments the Bible is silent as to a specific course of action. The flow of daily life will often touch on the content matter of Ephesians 4-6, but sometimes it will not. Often, life will intersect with various decisions we need the wisdom of God in, but the Bible will not tell us precisely what to do in every single moment of our lives. Often, as we search the pages of Scripture to find out what we ought to do — a good practice — we must remember more who we are. We must walk worthy of our calling. Carrying the righteousness of Christ into every situation life throws at us helps us gain a better sense of how we ought to behave as believers. The new identity He has placed on us is of paramount importance to our daily behavior.
Paul shifts, then, to the life of the believer in the community of the church. He will say much in the next few paragraphs, but first, he deals with the attitude we bring to the body of Christ.
Attitude isn’t everything, but it isn’t insignificant either. The way individual believers feel and act and think in relation to one another is vital.
Paul rattled off beautiful words like humility, gentleness, patience, love, and eagerness. All of these attitudes in the universal or a local church make the church better, healthier, able to do more of what Christ has asked of them.
These words stand as a description of Christ, and as believers allow the life of Christ to permeate their hearts as they walk with Him, the life of Christ is seen more visibly in the way they treat one another.
Jesus was humble in that He lowered Himself through His incarnation. Jesus was gentle in that He set aside the privileges of His power to submit to the will of the Father. Jesus was patient in that He restored and loved and kindly guided His disciples. Jesus loved in that He went to His substitutional death on the cross, His most significant and most loving act. Jesus was eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in that He eagerly went to the cross to provide a way for unity to exist.
Today, believers stand attracted, drawn to Christ. When we bring these same Christlike attitudes into the body of Christ, we are drawn to one another.
A resistant, prideful, impatient church is a church which will never accomplish much for God’s kingdom. It is a sick body, unable to run in the commission of Christ. However, a humble, gentle, patient, loving, and eager church is a church filled with an electric attitude of grace which allows them to push through hurdles and obstacles on their way to fruitfulness. In writing this way, Paul is not blind. He can easily see the deficiencies the church often allows. But he has a vision, and that vision is one in which the ideal church is filled with a nobler attitude and spirit, even in the face of imperfections locally and universally. That nobler spirit allows the church to accomplish much for Christ.
During Fall 2017, I taught Calvary Monterey the book of Ephesians. During the series, I also wrote about Ephesians in sixty-plus short, devotionally styled posts. Each Thursday, through 2018, I will release a post. I hope you enjoy. For the entire series, please visit nateholdridge.com/united-for-unity-posts.