A) Our Calling to Unity (Ephesians 4:1)
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called" (Ephesians 4:1).
As we have already mentioned, Ephesians 4:1 talks about who we are by virtue of our calling. We are called into fellowship with God, not as an individual but as a community. We cannot, we dare not, ignore one side of the equation. Peace with God means (equals) peace with believers. In one sense, as a calling, it has already been accomplished in Christ’s work on the cross.
On the other hand, as Paul tells us here in Ephesians 4:1, “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” He entreats or pleads with us to allow the great calling of God to influence us more than our feelings, pride or difficult situations.
The word ‘entreat’ shows that it was heavy on Paul’s mind. He knew what we could become but was starkly reminded by the way believers have distanced themselves from God’s good promises. I recently visited one area of America where the church is strong. Several strong churches dominated one city. Good pastors and people. On this trip, however, I heard how each church is facing a serious crisis. Pastors have left not always in good situations. Congregations are devastated from the many sheep that have left. Whether we think of the church leadership or the sheep, we can see Paul calling the flock to 'walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.'
Instead we find the evil one coming among God’s people and stealing hope and peace from His people. This reminds me of Jesus’ high priestly prayer or pleading.
“And I am no more in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, the name which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as We are” (John 17:11).
“That they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me. “And the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they may be one, just as We are one” (John 17:21-22).
The word ‘calling’ is most often used to describe a specialized setting apart of one for some kind of ministry. We must understand this calling to pursue unity is given to all the saints. Not one genuine Christian is pardoned. It is hardly an option. Serious consequences follow if disobeyed. A calling is a special instruction of the Lord that because of its origin commands great shaping of our lives. “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” The calling is from the Lord. It specifically shapes our life responses. It is an invitation that we must respond to. We must remember that if peace is lacking, it is not because God has not set us under this call to preserve the unity of the Spirit, but that we are reluctant to allow Him to rule our lives. We might feel like listening to our jealousies, anger or pride, but none of these are important compared to the high calling given to us to preserve the unity of the Spirit.
One of the greatest times in my life have been when I have lived in unity of the Spirit. I think of one very diverse church planting team in southern Taiwan. The experience was fabulous. I also think of the board of elders that worked closely together at the church where I formerly pastored. We worked hard together. We didn’t mind serving long hours because we could serve together before the Lord. We enjoyed each other and treasured each person’s special gifts and persons. We could work along with each other even though we had different perspectives on different issues.
In our modern society, we unfortunately face changes. Things are temporary. People change jobs. They move. And, if not closely guarded, relationships can change for the worse. I should mention that this is all too true for the family too. I do not know how many times I have absolutely been thrilled thinking how God has been so good giving me my wife and family. Maybe it is because I have seen how bad a marriage and family could be (I was raised in a broken non-Christian home). But I am sure, it is even more so due to the love that flows out of the harmony that my wife and I have.
In a negative way, it is very hard to place the unity of others high on our priority list when they are being selfish, misunderstanding or too busy to meet some certain needs. We have to consciously face our disappointments in light of God’s high calling. He is saying in essence, that this calling is much more important than the many minor doctrinal differences, the different way of approaching God’s work or even the varying interpretations or applications of God’s Word. In the next verses, Paul outlines what kind of spirit we need to properly carry out this calling.
In short, never be content with less than the great, wonderful and glorious harmony between God and other believers including your spouse! It is our inheritance that begins now here on earth. Do not allow present or past brokenness keep you from claiming what is yours. God’s favor is upon you. Do your best to restore all broken relationships. Brokenness is the fruit of the evil one. Fellowship is the result of the Holy Spirit’s work. One might not be able to fully restore all your relationships but as the scriptures says, “Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).
Before moving on and discussing how we can seek this peace, we need to take a moment to reflect on our present situation. Do you find harmony or tension in your relationships with others? Do you enjoy those relationships? Why or why not? Was it always like this? Open up your heart and life before God, like a flower before the sun. Allow the Lord’s healing, love and grace to pour into your soul. As I said, it might be in a marriage, family, church or work situation. Ask the Lord to forgive you for any bitterness and to restore a vision for unity.
We all need to be taught what this unity of the Spirit is. I recently attended a prayer meeting for our city with about 25 people attending. We represented every different denomination and Christian tradition. God is calling us to a task to pray for our city. I personally do not agree with how some live out their Christian lives, but I must remember that I am not their Lord. More important is our calling to unitedly seek God’s glorious work in our city. As we unitedly humble ourselves under our one head, Christ Jesus, He begins to bring about a greater love which is greater than what we would otherwise ever experience. We first live in obedience, gain more faith, receive more love and find more abundance. As I look back upon these experiences, I typically find some ways that the Lord was not very comfortable with my own Christian walk.
We will now look at the way we can obtain that special unity. Next=>
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