August 12, 2018
I find it hard to leave Ephesians. This is one of Paul’s most amazing letters. Yes, Romans is very informative. It’s like a “systematic theology” of the faith. Corinthians is interesting for the way Paul deals with many different problems in a fledgling church. But Ephesians is a warm, personal letter, written to a beloved congregation, much like Philippians. It is not all that long, and there is no “II Ephesians.” But, what we do have is packed full of almost “fatherly wisdom.” In it, we find in Paul, a true desire for his people to reach a greater understanding of the amazing nature of the faith.
Isn’t it great that we can read this letter as though it were written to us? And I’m sure you know I’m going to say here! It was written to us! The great saints of the church thought it important to include these letters in the holy scriptures. So, we too can see ourselves as the recipients! And we are!
Well, so far we’ve been reading from chapters two and three, and now we reach chapter four. And here we find Paul giving his people an impassioned plea. He’s taught them a few things, he’s shared a written prayer that they be “rooted and grounded in love,” which we read last week. Now, we have this “impassioned plea.” He writes, “I therefore a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to live a life worthy of the calling to which we are called.”
Now, I don’t want any confusion here. We’re not talking about a life worthy of our salvation! None of us can live such a life! We cannot be worthy of our salvation. We are saved by grace – grace which is “unmerited – undeserved – favor.” We’re talking about a life “worthy of the calling to which we’ve been called.” That we can live!
Unfortunately, people get that confused. They say, “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” And while that is true, I think sometimes it’s used as an excuse not to bother to be perfect. Even though we follow a Jesus who said, “You must therefore be perfect, even as your heavenly father is perfect.” That comes right from “The Sermon on the Mount.” (Matthew 5:48)
Perfection is something we must strive for, not because we ever hope to achieve it, but that in doing so we make ourselves better people! Do you see? It’s been said that “If you shoot for mediocrity, you usually hit it!” And that’s true! But if you strive for perfection, you won’t get there, but you will become a better person! And mind you, I don’t mean a “superior” person, but a “better person!”
The bottom line is that Paul is calling the people, and us, to action. He’s striving to answer the all important question we looked at a few weeks ago. “How shall we then live?” And how do we do that? Well, Paul, who often goes back and forth between “inspiration” and “practicality,” now gives the practical. Here’s how to live “the worthy life.” We do so, he says, “…with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
There you have it, folks! You want to know how to live the christian life? Paul just gave it to you! You do so, “…with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” So, think about your own life. How are you doing with that? Do you have “lowliness and meekness?” Do you practice “patience and forbearance?” Are you “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit?” Is “peace” your goal?
Just imagine, what the world would be like if God’s people were living that “worthy life!” Imagine what the church would be like if all Christians were living that life! Imagine your “little corner” of the church! That’s what we are all called to do!
Remember the old song, “Let there be peace on earth!” And what is the operative part of that song? What’s the focus of it’s meaning? Remember the ending! Think of the musical crescendo, and the dramatic ritard, and sing it in your mind – no sing it with me! “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with… (?) Me!!!” Very good! Isn’t that what Paul is pleading for here?
Think of those things. Think of the things Paul says are part of the “worthy life.” And we have to remember these every day! Because the world inundates us with the opposite message – every day! Think about it! “Lowliness and meekness.” We live in a world that sees those things as weakness. “Patience and forbearance.” We live in a world that lives by emotions, where people blast before they think, and then thinks that’s noble. “Unity and peace.” We live in a world where those things are talked about, but where they are contingent on whether or not the “self” gets the upper hand.
Our faith teaches us a different message. I think of Jesus words here. When he was talking about those who “lord it over others,” he said, “It shall not be so among you” he said. In fact, “…whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be the slave of all!” (Matthew 20:26-27)
Anybody want out now? I hope not. But people have over the years. Or worse, they’ve said they’re in, but then they don’t life the worthy life. They choose the world’s view every time.
So again, think of your life. Are you striving to live the worthy life as Paul describes it? Are you striving to practice those things – lowliness, meekness, patience, and forbearance – difficult though they might be?! And they are! And if you’re not seeing them as difficult, you might not be understanding them well enough.
So please do think of this. That’s my plea! Think of Paul’s impassioned plea, that we live a life worthy of the calling to which we have been called. “…with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” I guarantee you – and Paul would agree with me – it is a better life!
Lord, as Paul pleaded with us, may we indeed live a life worthy of your calling. Help us to have the lowliness and meekness he described. Help us to have patience and forbearance with each other. Help us to be more aware of your spirit moving among us and within us, bringing us unity and peace. We thank you and praise you for all you have done, and are doing, in our lives. And we pray these things, as always, in Jesus’ name, and for the sake of his kingdom among us, Amen.