Paul has been expounding the mystery of the gospel and delving into the incredible grace and salvation God has given to us through faith in Jesus. What is more, he has taught the Ephesians that whether they were Jew or Gentile they have an overarching unity in Christ.
In Ephesians 4, he turns to urging us to live in a way that reflects the grace and salvation we have received. The overall message is that God’s people live according to the salvation they have received from Jesus and that we are to grow and mature in the faith that unites us in love.
Paul urges us to, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling,” to which we have been called. “Walk,” is a metaphor for, “live.” In fact, some English translations have this, “live in a manner worthy of your calling.” So what does that look like? Paul lists things like humility, gentleness, patience, and bearing with one another in love. He also talks about becoming more mature and Christ-like.
At the heart of all of what it means to walk in a manner worthy of our calling is Jesus. As Paul speaks of the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace he goes back to what he’s already talked about – the salvation Jesus won for us that we hold in common. There is only one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God. But there are those – God’s enemies – who would twist this unity and love into something different. They would bring division. They do this by attacking Jesus, reducing his grace and exchanging it for our works, providing a different standard for unity, or defining love apart for the salvation and new life Jesus has won for us.
In the late 1990’s, Charles Colson co-authored a book titled How Now Shall We Live? That quizzical title is at the heart of this reading. How do we live in light of what God has done for us? What difference does Jesus make in our lives? Where do our lives reflect the presence of the Holy Spirit in us? These are all good questions for us to ponder, especially to lead us into confession, because we will always see that we fall short on the front of living Christ-like lives.
The heart of Paul’s answer to this question lies in v. 15 where he writes, “…we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ….” This means, firstly, living as his forgiven people, and then being changed in our priorities, lifestyle, worldview, and everything else so we become like Jesus. But forgiveness is first, because as we delve into the other things we will always fall short and need to return to the source of our hope; Christ crucified and risen delivered to us by faith.
This prayer is written in the theme of Petition.
O Holy Spirit, help us to attain to the unity of the faith and knowledge of the Son of God. Help us to mature and become more like Jesus. Bless us with humility, gentleness, patience, love, and an eagerness to maintain the unity you have given us in the bond of peace – the common hope and faith we have in Jesus’ death and resurrection. Help your people to be more united be becoming more connected to Jesus, hearing his word, trusting in his salvation, and seeing one another in light of the cross. Amen.