|Volume 19 Number 4 April 2017||
The apostle Paul laid out a charge for all Christians in Ephesians 4:1-3. This lifelong pursuit is God’s expectation to those striving to make heaven their eternal home. “I, therefore, the prisoner of the LORD, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Walk worthy of the calling—what does that mean? According to Vine’s Concise Dictionary of Bible Words, “It is the Christian walk as it should be; assisting servants of God in a way which reflects God’s character and thoughts. It is a manner of life in accordance with what the gospel declares. A manner as befits those who bear the name of “saints.”'
Have we ever done any real meditation to understand and to embrace what Christians are called to do in just these three verses? Paul said that he was the Lord’s prisoner. Though he was in a literal prison at the time, Paul was not bothered that his physical location would hinder him in any way in keeping true to his Lord and Master. He was bound by chains of love and complete submission to Jesus Christ. What about you and me? We too are, and always will be, “prisoners” of the Lord as we make the daily commitment to die to self and to follow Christ.
Paul said he was begging the church in Ephesus to walk worthy of the calling with which they were called. What about that calling to each of us? Paul said this calling was to be done with all lowliness, gentleness and with longsuffering. Just to make sure we are really listening, Paul continued by saying, “bearing with one another in love.” How good are we at doing that? Paul was not yet finished. He summed up with, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”! Is the challenge sufficient to keep us all striving for growth and maturity until this life is over? We are confronted daily with this divine expectation.
In Philippians 3:12-21, Paul spoke of striving toward the goal of spiritual growth and maturity, which will culminate in our entrance into heaven. Anyone who constantly exhibits an attitude that is self-seeking, self-serving, self-exalting and self-justifying is never an asset to the Lord’s church. When “me, myself and I” have overtaken the throne of the heart, to walk worthy of the calling is a total unknown. Paul warned of this in Philippians 3:17-19. “Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things.”
Paul again cautioned us about the danger of this potential mindset in Colossians 3:1-3. “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
Walking worthy—how is this done? Paul gave us one answer in his letter to the church at Colosse as he commended the congregation for its faith and love for all the saints because of the hope laid up for them in heaven (Colossians 1:1-5). He penned in Colossians 1:9-10, “For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
Walking worthy—what does it look like? Paul put it very pointedly in 1 Corinthians 11:1 when he scribed, “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” First Peter 2:20-22 boldly says, “For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow His steps: Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth.” The message is very well taken by those of us who are striving daily to always reflect Christ in our lives.
Jude 1b-2 reads, “To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.” Casandra Martin wrote Living the Jesus Resolution. She made these observations about this passage.
This is a beautiful greeting. It speaks of identity, protection, purpose, and blessing. To those who are called. We are a called people—called into relationship with God, called to imitate His nature, live out His character, and walk with Him every day. We are to be called by His name. We are called out of the world. We are called. His call is personal as he calls us by name. His call is transformational as he calls us to look like Jesus. His call is the cry of a Father searching for His child and a call of delight when that child comes home. (116)
In speaking to one of His followers, Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him” (John 14:23). It does not get any better than to walk worthy of the calling!
Let Your Light
Shine in the Community
Martha Lynn Rushmore
As Christians, how can we let our lights shine in our communities? Have we put Christ on as The Light of our lives? We cannot be the influence that we ought to be as long as we have not become Christians. Therefore, we must follow God’s Word to become children of God. Let us find out how a person becomes a child of the King!
First, one must hear the Word of God as stated in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Secondly, a person must believe God’s Word as quoted in Mark 16:16, “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved. But he who does not believe shall be condemned.” Thirdly, one is required to repent of his or her sins. There must be a change of heart (mind) and a change of actions. Luke 13:3, 5 say, “I tell you, no, except you repent you will perish.” This must be essential as Christ spoke these words twice as emphasis that one—not should—must repent. Fourthly, it is necessary to confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Romans 10:9-10 reads, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Lastly, a penitent believer must be baptized into Christ, and then, He adds him to His church. In Acts 2:38 we find written, “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” After we have done all that is required, only then does Christ add us to His church. Acts 2:47 records, “Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
How do we let our lights shine? We are to imitate Christ in the way we speak and act. We are watched by all around us. Our lives are like throwing a small pebble in a pool of water; ripples go on and on. We do not know who or how we are influencing those around us with our actions and speech. No one lives or dies to himself (Romans 14:7). So, let us all speak and act as Christ did when He was on the earth.