As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the
calling you have received. Ephesians 4:1
Sadly, Christians today are a divided people, and it should not be so. The history of Protestantism, especially, is the story of dispute, disagreement, and division. We are Catholic and Protestant and Orthodox, pre- and post-millennial, Armenians and Calvinists, traditional and contemporary, conservative and liberal, and the list goes on. It's okay to have differences. That's part of being human. It's the way God made us. Husbands and wives have differences, but work hard at building on common ground, talking through differences, and maintaining a marriage, a unity, in the face of all sorts of situations and obstacles. Differences aren't the problem. It's how we handle the differences. This week's passage is the Apostle Paul's appeal to the church to be united, unified, and whole.
ONE CALLING – Eph. 4:1
Paul begins with a strong appeal. Paul appeals, he begs, not just as an apostle but as a prisoner for the Lord. He is appealing to his readers' sympathies. The idea here is that Paul is strongly urging, he is appealing to, he is urging them. He appeals to them to act with integrity, to live out their faith in everyday practice. He is asking the Ephesians to conduct themselves in a way that is worthy of their high calling as Christians. Often times, we use the term "calling" as a special calling to full-time Christian ministry. Here, however, it is the calling or invitation of Christ to follow Him. Paul reinforces here the idea of God's calling. It is God who calls us. We participate in God’s story, not as passive characters, but as active contributors to the narrative. We are to act so as to enhance the unity of God’s people, a unity based in the very identity of God.
I am still growing in my understanding of the unity the Spirit brings. God is gradually overcoming my prejudices. As I've grown older, I've had to change some of my previously-held positions because I found that the Bible didn't teach them. My religious upbringing taught them, but not the Bible. We can be trained to look only at a certain set of scripture verses that support our position and to underemphasize others. Sometimes, I can be an expert at finding fault with other groups -- and so perhaps are you. Read John 17:20-23 and listen again to Jesus’ high priestly prayer and realize that He was praying for you and me.
How can I be an answer to Jesus’ prayer as I “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”? (Eph. 4:3)