“I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling you have received: with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, and with diligence to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace… and speak truthfully to (your) neighbor, for we are members of one another.” (Ephesians 4:1-3, 25)
We have been talking about how to do church, by bringing up some basic thoughts that need to influence our thinking in the privilege of sharing life with God’s people.
If there is one mindset that seems to plague many Christians it is… “how does all this benefit or effect me?” We see church as a means of our benefit, our enjoyment, our growth, our experience. And we tend to measure all our church experiences through the focal point of our own personal enrichment.
But, not surprisingly, this is not God’s intent for us. He would have us consumed with the idea of… “how does this effect and benefit others (and most importantly) how does this effect Christ?”
If we view church as something that exists for our personal benefit – we will, eventually, find our church experience… lacking. That’s because “what’s in it for me?” is a worldly viewpoint. And if we bring that viewpoint into our churches, we will find that we are unfulfilled and unsatisfied. The Kingdom of God does not work by worldly means.
So the apostle admonishes us to see things differently. Walk “worthy of the calling we have received.” Live life as one redeemed from the patterns and viewpoints of this world. Live life as Christ lived among us. “With all humility and gentleness” as one whose sole goal is to serve… and does not expect to be served in return. A life of constant giving, pouring out the grace we have received from the One Whose love has been poured out to us.
“Worthy of the calling” is also “bearing with one another in love.” Because people are fraught with problems and shortcomings and will have need of a gentle and patient presence in their lives. We need to forgive often… as Christ has constantly forgiven us – and refuse to denigrate any brother or sister in Christ.
“Worthy of the calling” is the reminder that we do not belong to ourselves. We belong to Jesus – and our relationship with Jesus binds us to ALL who belong to Jesus (in spite of how they may differ from us). The apostle sums it up: “we are members of one another.”
We thought we were just coming to Jesus. But Jesus was bringing a whole Family with Him. We are Christ’s. We are also eternally connected with Christ’s people.
No Christian ever benefits by being “in it” for him/herself. We can only find the fullness of what God offers us by committing our selves to Christ… AND to His people.
He designed it that way. And in His wisdom… we actually need what He has provided through our connection (and mutual interaction) with His people.
One last note: Accepting one another does have its limits. If anyone claims to belong to Christ, but refuses to accept the full teachings of Christ (or the clear teachings found in Scripture) we are under no obligation to accept a so-called brother who chooses to ignore the truth of the Scriptures to adopt their own view of things. It is getting increasingly popular to “reinterpret” Scripture to satisfy our own sinful longings. This approach does not reflect the Spirit of Christ… and we are warned: “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.”
The Spirit of Christ always honors the Father. Submits to Scripture. Seeks to live in humility and gentleness as a humble and submitted servant of the Most High.
Those who seek to establish their own agenda (opposing God’s clear views) are not really brothers in Christ… no matter how much they may profess to be!