Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost – August 5, 2018
Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
one God and Father of all,
who is over all, in all, and living through all.
However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. That is why the Scriptures say,
“When he ascended to the heights,
he led a crowd of captives
and gave gifts to his people.”
Notice that it says “he ascended.” This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world. And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself.
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
Ephesians 4:1-16 New Living Translation (NLT)
We continue our journey through Ephesians. One of the first things that Paul writes to us in this passage is to lead a life worthy of your calling. It is a reminder that those who are in Christ are called of God. One of the results of the Reformation was the reminder that each believer is part of the Kingdom (The priesthood of all believers.) Each believer has a calling and a ministry in God’s Kingdom. This past week was Refresh Retreat and Family Camp. One of our speakers was the lead pastor at Watermark Wesleyan Church – Ken Nash. I heard this line quoted several times, not only by him but others who were quoting Ken, “If you have a pulse, you have a purpose.” Each one of us have a place in the Kingdom. Ministry is not limited to the clergy. We are all called. We, as clergy, need to help people find their place in the Kingdom.
Paul continues that we should always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s fault because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. So many times we think unity means that we all have to act the same – or maybe even that we don’t disagree. Each of us thinks differently and there will be times that we disagree, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have unity…in face, Paul insists on it. After all, “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father…and he has given each one of us a special gift to use in the working of God’s Kingdom.
We are given a list of the gifts that Christ gave to the church. Notice it does not say that they were given to the clergy, but the church. During our monthly leadership meetings this spring we talked at great length about apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. These gifts equip God’s people to do God’s work. Too many times I have seen those who are charged with building up the body, tear it down, only so they may build themselves up.
Again Paul calls for unity – and that is what happens when we build the body. Paul calls us to be mature and the standard for being mature, he says is measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
When we work together for the cause of Christ – all of us – lay and clergy – we continue to grow more like Christ – who, as Paul writes is the head of the body or the church and he helps us grow together – working together – in perfect unity – much like our human body works together. As a runner I understand, when one part of the body isn’t cooperating in running, it makes it so much more difficult for the rest of the body. But each part has its place, even when we don’t think so. Each part helps the other part – so that we grow and the whole body is healthy and growing AND full of LOVE.