Gracefully Truthful

Adoration,church,Community,Dwell,Neighbor,Obedience

Read His Words Before Ours!

Proverbs 27:17
Ephesians 4:1-6
Ephesians 2:13-18
John 13:34-35
Galatians 5:22-23

Years ago, the minister of my childhood church gave me advice for how to study the Bible: when you see the word “therefore” in a verse, you should ask what it is there for, as it generally connects to what has gone before.

We see this in the opening verse of Ephesians 4:
Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received[.]” (Ephesians 4:1)

In this verse, “therefore” refers back to the wonderful truths outlined in Ephesians 1-3,
where Paul writes about all God has done for us, 
His amazing love and grace which grant us freedom, 
the forgiveness and life He offers us, 
and the calling He gave us as His chosen, holy people.

In light of these truths, Paul now teaches the Ephesians (and us) how to live as God’s people.

Much of Paul’s Spirit-given wisdom in Ephesians 4-6 concerns our relationships with one another. Following Jesus is not intended to be a solo pursuit; it is meant to be worked out in community. This can be a great joy, but can also be challenging sometimes, which is why Paul highlights our need for attributes such as humility and patience. Keeping “the unity of the Spirit” (Ephesians 4:3) requires effort, but is crucial to the Christian life.

Back in Ephesians 2, Paul identified this unity as a key aspect of the gospel message. Christ died not only to unite us with God, but also to unite us with one another. Writing about the Jews and Gentiles, Paul says Jesus’ death “made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility.” (Ephesians 2:14) Together, all who follow Jesus are a holy temple to God, with Jesus as the cornerstone.

This unity can be a challenge, though. Despite our common faith in Jesus, Christians come with different backgrounds, perspectives, and opinions. We don’t always agree with one another, but we can choose how we handle disagreements.

Over the years I’ve been privileged to be part of several very different churches as well as work alongside fellow Christians of different denominations. Despite the difficulties accompanying these differences, this experience has been a huge blessing.

For example, when I attended a youth ministry training conference, I experienced worship far more charismatic in style than anything I had witnessed before. While I was initially hesitant, this led to several helpful conversations about worship and the work of the Holy Spirit. It opened my eyes to a different way of worshipping and a deeper knowledge of God.

By contrast, my first experience working in youth ministry was in a very formal and traditional church. At first, the set responses and liturgical prayers seemed dry and dull, but over time I came to appreciate the theological richness of the words. In both situations, despite the varying approaches to worship, I saw people who genuinely loved Jesus and wanted to serve Him.

Over the years, I have also had several interesting conversations with friends and fellow-believers about issues such as women in leadership or how God’s sovereignty interacts with our free will. Sometimes our opinions have been wildly different, but I have seen the value of following God’s wisdom through Paul to approach these conversations with humility and gentleness. Although we may not reach agreement on certain matters, we are united by our love for Jesus, and this is stronger than anything that divides us.

When experiencing differences with other believers, a willingness to listen is helpful. Ephesians 3:10 talks of “God’s multi-faceted wisdom” being made known through the church. I have seen this in action! There is always something for us to learn from a different perspective or way of doing things.

A quote, which has been attributed to various theologians including St. Augustine and John Wesley, summarizes, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and, in all things, charity.”

In Ephesians 4:4-6, Paul lists the factors uniting all Christians.
We are part of one body,
filled with the same Spirit,
having one hope
in one God,
and all come to God
in one way,
through Jesus.

We have one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:6) This puts us all on an equal footing before God. 

While it may not always be easy to “walk worthy of the calling” we have received, we have the Holy Spirit to help us as He produces good fruit in our lives such as love, peace, and patience. (Galatians 5:22-23)

Being filled with the same Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to be united, and when we live according to His way, His testimony of unity in us is a powerful witness to the watching world.

Jesus, You said if we love one another, people will know we are Your disciples. (John 13:35) Please help us show this love and be united in a way that points others to You. Thank You for the church, for the rich diversity of Your people. Please help us see this diversity not as a threat, but as a wonderful gift. Help us look beyond our differences to see what unifies us, and help us love one another well. Amen.

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Elizabeth Crawford
Elizabeth Crawford
1 month ago

Excellent explanation! Thank you for sharing it! 💕

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biblical community,church,ephesians,family,service
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