Happy Easter! After reading that, you might be thinking to yourself, “You’re a little late bro…Easter was a few weeks ago.” And to that I would say… “You’re right, but that was only the beginning of the Easter season.” We are now in week 4 of Easter building up to the Christian crescendo of Pentecost (7 weeks after the Passover/Easter), the moment the Church become truly alive, filled with God’s Spirit and thrust out into the world to display the beauty and worth of Jesus’ kingship. Pentecost lands on May 23rd this year (my 2nd child’s 9th birthday!).
What’s unique about the end of the Easter season this year, in Phoenix, is that on the day of Pentecost (May 23rd) there is a multi-denominational gathering of Catholics and Protestants coming together to celebrate the oneness they have in Jesus, to come together based on their faith in Jesus, and not to stay divided based on their doctrinal differences.
So in the Easter spirit of being united under the oneness of Jesus, I wanted to share a journey through Ephesians 4:1-16 that may help you understand this oneness in Jesus, and to embrace this movement of unity that is essential to the calling of every person who has faith in Jesus, and to take Jesus up on his invitation to go deeper with Him.
Here’s day one:
The Called Body – Ephesians 4:1-3
1 I urge you, then—I who am a prisoner because I serve the Lord: live a life that measures up to the standard God set when he called you. 2 Be always humble, gentle, and patient. Show your love by being tolerant with one another. 3 Do your best to preserve the unity which the Spirit gives by means of the peace that binds you together.
This is the opening of the second part of Paul’s letter to the church in the city of Ephesus. The first three chapters of Ephesians contain Paul’s overview of the doctrinal and liturgical formation of the church, and now he’s doing what should always be done with doctrine and liturgy: applying it to the whole of life! As Paul draws the Church, the body of Christ, into the life it ought to be concerned with, regarding the good news of what Christ has done for her, he begins by reminding her of the calling that the whole body has been given.
Paul urges the Ephesians to “lead a life that is worthy of the vocation to which you were called” (vs. 1, New Jerusalem Bible).
This is the call of the Church: to live, to embody, to display, to put into practice what God has made possible because of Jesus. In the Greek New Testament, there is repetition found in verse 1 with the two words vocation and called, which are derived from the same Greek word, kaléō. Kaléō means to call to someone in such a way that they actually listen and obey, much like sheep would recognize and obey the voice of their shepherd.
In this case, Paul is calling the body of Christ to respond to the vocation of humility, gentleness, and long-suffering, and to preserve the oneness of Christ’s body through the peace that is given to us through God’s Spirit. According to Philippians 2:2-5, Paul is clearly calling the body of Christ into the very character of Christ. This will become much clearer to us as we continue to give our hearts and minds to Ephesians 4:1-16 in the days to come.
Complete harmony is only found in Christ. No matter where our paycheck comes from, our true vocation comes from him, so we must be willing to give him our faithful allegiance. It is Christ Jesus who has conquered death itself, and all who follow his voice are assured that the same victory will be theirs as well. This is the beginning of all forms of unity, and we should strive toward this unity in the Spirit with all that we have.
A Prayer For Us Today
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us, sinners. We long to hear and obey your voice, the voice of the Chief Shepherd, but there are so many competing voices today. These voices tell us false stories of happiness, success, power, and prestige. We often believe their lies. Be gracious to us as we learn to listen and obey and walk in a manner worthy of the gospel, the gospel that calls, cleanses, equips, and reconciles. Let us be drawn more and more into your character as you make us one. This is our fervent prayer. Amen.
For Those Who Want to Go Deeper
The gospel of Jesus calls for our faithful allegiance. What stumbling blocks are keeping you from being faithful to Jesus? What competing voices have you believed more than God? Today, confess these things to Christ Jesus in prayer, and consider confiding in a fellow brother or sister in Christ who is willing to walk alongside you on your journey of repentance. Be honest with yourself, but be kind as well. Don’t give yourself a personal beating… Jesus took the beating (and death) for you, and it was sufficient. We don’t have to beat ourselves up over our sin. We just have to be honest about our sin. Jesus isn’t a condemning to his children, so don’t be condemning to yourself. This exercise is meant to take you to the hidden places that you wish weren’t there, place them in front of Jesus, and say, “There you go. I don’t want these anymore. Renew my mind and work healing in the inner parts of my soul.” Go for it. Transformation awaits the honest ones.