As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
Christian Community in Ephesians
Two launchpads for meditation. The first connects together the entire book of Ephesians. Because Ephesians 4:1 is really a therefore statement, connecting the first half and second half of Ephesians. As is common in Paul’s writing, it begins with truth as described in doctrine- the truths of the gospel message. And then building upon that we get to the application. So in view of all that God has done through the gospel, how should we live out the Christian life? By doing this the exhortations of scripture are not mere moralism, but they are a response to everything that God has done in the gospel.
So in the first half of Ephesians we read about receiving grace through faith, being adopted into the family of God, and being made alive in Christ- the truths of the gospel story. Then in the second half of Ephesians, we see in view of all of that how we should live out the Christian life.
Living in Christian Community
This brings us to the second launchpad for meditation- the context of community in living out the Christian life. To view the calling and life described in this verse applying to you as an isolated individual is to misread Scripture through Western, individualistic eyes. Paul is not saying, “Ok, you have received the gospel, now here is God’s individual plan for your life”. In Greek, the ‘yous’ in this verse are plural, applying to the community of believers in Ephesus.
Context is also key as after this verse Paul goes on to describe this calling as being part of one body, obeying one Lord, holding onto one hope, being filled with one Spirit, trusting one faith, participating in one baptism, and being loved by one Father.
So as I strive in my life to replace falsehoods with facts, greed with generosity, hatred with harmony, jealousy with joy, and selfishness with sacrifice, it is done within the context of community, relying upon others to build me up rather than tear me down. And as I strive to put off the old self and put on the new self, in this context of community, it is also done in humility. Because the only way, reason, and hope that I have in taking off the old self and putting on the new self is because of the gospel. It’s because God has adopted me into his family, made me alive in Christ, and provided grace through faith.
So Ephesians 4:1 is a single verse that ties together the entire book of Ephesians and establishes the walking out of the Christian life in community.