BY JORDAN MAYER
“I therefore, a prisoner of the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with on another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit - just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call - one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
There's an oft-used church saying that when you see a "therefore" in the Bible, you should be asking yourself, "What's the 'therefore' there for?" Paul has just spent three chapters laying a foundation for the Ephesians before beginning chapter four. This "therefore" marks a turning point in his letter. In essence, Paul is saying that, in light of what he has just written, there is now an application and implication. So what has Paul been saying?
First, we must begin with our natural state before God. We are said to be spiritually dead in our sins (2:1), children of wrath by nature and by choice (2:3). We are trespassers against God's holy and perfect law. The works we carry out are in pursuit of our own sinful passions and desires (2:3). We are without hope and without God (2:12).
Just as God spoke light into the dark and formless void (Genesis 1:2-3), He speaks life into our spiritually dead state. God makes us alive together with Christ (2:5)!
But what we learn about God in this passage is that His plan of redemption was not reactionary, but preordained. Before the foundations of the world were even laid, God chose us and sought us for adoption (1:4-5). He came, not because we were so lovely or worthy of saving, but because He was rich in mercy, glorious in grace, and great in love.
And yet, the Gospel is not merely what saves us from our sin, it is also the power to live a transformed life. For upon accepting the Gospel, we are given the promised Holy Spirit (1:13). We are strengthened with His power (3:16). This is what is made available to us in Christ. And yet, how quick we are to pray for more of His grace, or more peace, or more strength. But how can He give any more of what He has already freely and fully provided? As Paul reminds us in the opening chapter, we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (1:3)! Thus, our task is not to petition Him for a greater portion, but merely to seek to be filled by His fullness (3:19).
In light of what Christ has done and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are urged to walk. The Christian life does not end at conversion, it is there that it begins. As the Gospel transforms our hearts, it begins to transform our lives.
In particular, it revolutionizes our relationships. In Paul’s day, there were few relational dynamics more stark than that of Jew and Gentile. The Jews enjoyed a rich history as God’s chosen people, well acquainted with the law and prophets. By all intents and purposes, they were as near to God as anyone could be. On the other hand, the Gentiles found themselves alienated from Israel, not even being allowed to go beyond the outer temple court to worship. They were ignorant to the things of God and strangers to the law. And yet, in the end, those who were near and those who were far off were equally lost.
In Christ, those who appeared far off are brought near by His blood (2:13). Once strangers and aliens, God declares them fellow citizens and members of His household (2:19). In Christ, those who were near, but condemned by the law, find peace with God. And in reconciling our relationship with God, Christ reconciles us to each other. Suddenly, whatever social, economic, political, or cultural divides fade away. Whatever we were before Christ gives way to who we are in Christ. In Him we are one body together (2:16).
We are unified through the Spirit and bonded together in peace. Notice that we are not called to create unity or peace, but to maintain it. Peace does not come within ourselves, but in Christ. For He, himself, is our peace (2:14). Likewise, it was the purpose and plan of God to unite all things in Him (1:10). Christ has accomplished the work, now we must bear it out in our own lives. So to walk in a manner worthy of our calling is to walk in the power of the Gospel, the power of a life transformed by Christ. We are given new natures and new affections, we are made new creations. And in being made new, we are joined together as one. One body. One Spirit. One hope. One Lord. One faith. One baptism. One God and Father of all.
As many of you know, I have made the decision to leave Daybreak Community Church. As such, this is my farewell post of sorts. My aim in writing has always been to draw attention to and meditate upon the great riches of the Word of God. In a phrase, to divide the spoils of His Word. So I can think of no fitting end than to dwell on the immense treasure of the Gospel. For all of Scripture points to the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is in light of the truth of the Gospel that several Daybreakers have reminded me of its implication, much like Paul did to the Ephesians. Though we may be apart, we are truly one in Christ, connected together in the peaceful bonds of His love!
So it is my ernest prayer that we all “may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that [we] may be filled with all the fullness of God” (3:18-19).
“To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (3:21).
May it be so!