I. In Eph. 4:1-3 Paul exhorts us to:
"Walk in a manner worthy of the calling you have received . . . and make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
This is an imperative to live the way we ought to in view of what God has done.> To walk in a manner which is compatible with who we are in Christ.
In Eph.1-3 we learn about our wonderful inheritance and what a great future we have with Christ (4-6). But we also have a great life today in the Body of Christ. This is where we begin to experience the exciting and life-changing aspects of being a Christian. Experiencing the love of Christ in the Body of Christ.
But in this autonomous individualistic culture you are scared of commitment and will avoid vulnerability. If you feel this way and withdraw, avoiding openness and unity with others in the BOC, I can tell you something about yourself. You don't know you are totally forgiven and acceptable to God "in Christ". That is why you are self-protective, and fearful; you are afraid of being rejected. You erect barriers to hide behind disguising your fears in various ways, even if you act arrogant and know-it-all.
If you don't believe me, check up on yourself. How do you view the other members of the BOC? I check up on myself regularly this way. If I am making judgments and being critical, it is because I have decided not to be open and vulnerable myself. For example:
- Look at those fat ones - they have a problem. I won't get close to them.
- Then there are those obnoxious ones - every time they open their mouth it's embarrassing. I don't want to be around them.
- There are the ones with so many problems - they are always asking you to help them solve their problems. I avoid them.
- There are those who are not spiritual - they don't keep all the laws I keep, so I'll keep away from them.
- Then there are those who are not my kind of people - I can tell I wouldn't enjoy them, we have nothing in common so I won't waste time with them.
- Besides these categories there are some here who don't like me - I can tell by the way they look at me, so I'll keep away.
- How about the dumb ones - They are not as intelligent as I am, so they bore me.
I deserve smart, beautiful, gracious people as close friends.
Conclusion: there are really none that fit that category here, so I'll just pretend to enjoy this BOC, but not really be a part of it.
Now I can tell you two things about yourself if you are ever thinking this way - if you are making these external judgments. (1). You don't see yourself as totally SINFUL. (2). You don't see yourself as totally FORGIVEN and loved by Christ.
- It is absolutely essential to see yourself as SINFUL - as Paul did. "In me there is no good thing" "who will deliver me from this body of sin." And yet he was as good as it is possible to be - Phil 3 - he worked all day every day to do good and look good to himself and to others - horizontal viewpoint.
- After Paul met Christ he saw himself as a "wretched man", but totally FORGIVEN. "There is no condemnation for anyone in Christ Jesus." Rom. 8:1 Paul saw his own sinful helplessness and joyfully accepted Christ's total forgiveness.
When we are making judgmental external evaluations it always because we are afraid. Afraid of being rejected if people really get to know me. So we erect self-protective barriers to hide behind. We wear camouflaged veils which keep us from being understood. We react by attacking others to deflect attention away from us.
The result: You are cheating yourself - and you are cheating the other members of the BOC. You see, you need us as your close friends, and you will be amazed at how wonderful we ALL are - even with our fat bodies, our obnoxiousness, etc., etc. That is one of the first truths I experienced when I understood GRACE - my total forgiveness. Then I could see how wonderful other people are, how enjoyable, how gifted, what great companions and friends. Do you know why? Because I wasn't preoccupied with myself: protecting myself, projecting a false facade in order to be accepted. I was able to relax, be myself and really enjoy others - I even enjoyed enhancing them and building them up in their gifting.
Let me repeat -- You are cheating yourself if you make no effort to relate - and - grow with us in the BOC. We are all created by God - "fearfully and wonderfully made" - just the way we are: perfect in our createdness. We are all gifted by God in many diverse ways. We have such interesting backgrounds, such dynamic personalities, such specialized training. Each of us is a "chosen vessel", chosen by God for His good working. Each one has great gifts to share with you and help build you up in your area of ministry. You are cheating yourself if you refuse to be open and vulnerable, and you are cheating me also.
I need your love, your insights, your encouragement, your speaking the truth in love to me. In Eph 2:21-22 Paul says we are being built day by day into God's living temple. Peter tells us in I Peter 2 we are living stones being fitted together to form a perfectly living temple - the BOC.
We are to be marked by unity (Eph. 4:3), and love - the oneness and love that Christ prayed for us to have in John 17. The same love and oneness He and the Father and the Holy Spirit have. We can be one with each other because the H.S. pours God's love into each of our hearts. It is a life-changing magnetic love, drawing others to Christ. Everyone wants to be loved and accepted.
II. "Walking in a manner worthy of the Calling we have received" is defined by:
- The mindset of obedience.
- The mindset of faithfulness.
"Be careful how you walk."
"Making the most of your time."
"Understand what the will of the Lord is."
"Be filled with the Spirit."
You cannot by ignoring this issue of your walk avoid it. So how do we walk worthily with all humility, gentleness, serving and loving one another?
- Do we make a list of rules and try to keep them? OR
- Do we claim we are not under the law, but under grace, and God will do His will in our lives no matter what?
We do neither of the above!!
Both of these extremes are SELFISM. Unfortunately our tendency is to swing wildly between the 2 extremes. The first is legalism - resulting in self or pride - leading to a critical judgmental spirit, not godly living. The other is licentious - catering to our selfishness, leading to carelessness, laziness, and NOT a disciples life. If we assume it does not matter how we walk, we are insisting that God work in our lives at the expense of our obedience. He will NOT.
In practical terms just how does this oneness - this unity take place? In Eph 4:20-24 Paul tells us how we have a new identity - our NEW SELF. How does that new identity have anything to do with our daily lives? How do we start renewing our minds?
- The first step is to make the decision to become a disciple of Jesus Christ - "count the cost" and leave all and follow Christ. Paul call this the "whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Eph. 4:13).
- Develop a consistent devotional life. Francis Schaeffer said he had learned that "combat faith must flow from a consistent prayer life" - this is God's training ground.
- Maturing through dependence - when 2 wills are in conflict there can be no growth. But when we allow the H.S. to bring our will to the place of complete adjustment to the will of God, we live the "faith-rest life". It is not one of inaction, but one of harmony with the will of God - casting the whole weight of our cares on Him, and we function in cooperation with Him. Samuel Chadwick said "with God and for God, the believer is almighty". Phil 4:13.
- Appropriating the Spirit's power. The dynamic for maturity is the Holy Spirit Himself working unhindered in the believer.
- Being in the BOC on a regular basis - each member functioning in their gift - growing together "up to the fullness of Christ". This is the God-given place to grow and mature with deep LOVE relationships.