Ephesians 4: 1-16
1a I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord…
Some of the most powerful words in the bible are not the nouns or the verbs, but the conjunctions. What jumped at me right off is that Paul did not say he is a prisoner “of” the lord, but “for” the Lord.
God does not force us to follow Him, it is an offer, the greatest offer anyone can receive. We can hear the good news from others our whole life and reject it, but when Christ presses on our heart that there is no where else to run and that it is time to step in to the peace of His covenant, there is no greater purpose in the world than to labor for the Lord of all creation.
…urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
To which we have been called again speaks directly to our free will. If you ever meet a true Christian, ask him if his life in Christ is a burden or a joy. Our surrendered life is voluntary, and most will tell you they wish they came to know, follow and serve Him sooner.
2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
The call to “bear with one another in love” is I believe one of the hardest and yet most important traits a Christian can develop.
To allow others to be where they are, who they are, to not have to change others to meet our idea of who they should be. To have compassion on the broken and hurting, just as Christ has compassion on us. To reach out to them in understanding and grace, just as Christ did for us. We don’t have to retaliate at the person on the freeway who cut us off, we don’t have to give attitude to the people around us in the long check-out line, we don’t have to lash back or angrily defend our honor at the person who persecutes us. Bear with one another in love. Thank you God.
3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Eager, yes, on fire for Christ. When we focus on the kingdom and seek only to fulfill His great purposes of calling all into the Kingdom of God, unity becomes the mightiest pursuit. Much like the apostasy I see going on in the Trinity believing churches of the world, to fight over our differences in definitions instead of unite under the love of The Lord is to focus on the wrong thing. It is only God’s divine plans and purposes that matter. We are to feed His sheep, shelter the cold, fight for the oppressed, comfort the hurting, encourage the lost. Unity does not push away, it draws together.
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.
A few weeks ago I had the experience of meeting someone for the first time. I’m always looking for an opportunity to mention faith to see if it will spark a conversation and before we knew it we were both sharing testimony of the amazing ways God has personally transformed our life, then He uses us to help others. We spoke as if we were best friends and his wife joyfully joined in with stories of mission trips and ministry leadership stories. I originally went over to their house to work on their computer at the request of a mutual friend but instead the Holy Spirit, God in Spirit blessed us with an hour long conversation about Him, and it was incredibly refreshing, empowering, invigorating and affirming.
There is one God, and He is the same and present in all persons who call Him Lord at the same time everywhere in the world. He is a mighty God, a just God, a loving God.
7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
His gift to us, not something we will ever earn. We can get so derailed on thinking greatness, holiness, righteousness is something we do, that we earn by our actions. For me this was a lesson that has taken years to get right, we are given those things at the point of justification and we are simply called to live it out. We are free to choose righteous living at any time, Christ dwells within us giving us the power, spirit and desire to love others and do what it right. If we live for Christ as a thriving to prove something we’ve missed the mark, we live out our faith in response to His gift, His amazing, unwarranted, unconditional, free gift. Thank you God.
8 Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”
9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
He gives these gifts to all who are in service Him, all that He calls. If you believe in Christ Jesus and hunger to serve Him, then you too are called in a mighty way to touch the lives of those around you. If you are seeking where you fit in the kingdom, one tool I highly recommend is a spiritual gifts test.
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, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
There is such a pain in my heart over the division I see in our Christian churches. There are nearly 2 billion self proclaimed Christians in the world, yet there are nearly 41,000 different denominations (resource). Each of those claiming to have the corner on truth that others miss. Since I have come to Christ some have pressured me to “choose” a religion. I have come to almost resent that, for Christ loves all who love Him
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.
We are called to unity in Christ, to love one another, bearing all things. The pressure on my heart this morning is not to look at those around me and call them out for not doing this, it is to press in close to God, ask Him to reveal where I fall short and ask for the strength, boldness, love and compassion to step into those situations where Christ can help and be His hands, hearts, mouth, eyes, feet… to love others unconditionally and offer grace and compassion as best I can.
Anything we do will always pale in comparison to the grace and mercy the Father bestows upon us, but we can make a difference in drawing people toward His loving arms so they too can be set free by the blood of the lamb.
Father God help us this day look for ways to draw closer to those around us, give us eyes and hearts that seek to unify those we encounter under the hope, peace, joy and expectations of what you are doing in our lives. Give us the power to touch a life today in a way that glorifies your mighty name.