Paul, as we have previously seen, regarded all of his life as being under the sovereign control of Christ, so he could recognise that there was a purpose even in his imprisonment (see 3:1). He was a prisoner ‘’of Christ Jesus’’ (3:1), and ‘’for the Lord’’ (4:1). His entire life, whether in good experiences or bad, was about Jesus.
There is urgency about living godly lives in this world: ‘’I urge you…’’ (1). At this point we move into the practical section of the letter where Paul is encouraging the Christians to apply all of this great doctrine in everyday life. Truth is to be lived-out. Sermons are to walk out of church in many pairs of shoes. Belief has got to get into your feet. The Authorised Version of the Bible talks about walking worthily of our calling. As someone pointed out, there is nothing spectacular about walking. It’s just putting one foot in front of the other and moving in the right direction.
We tend to read these New Testament letters personally, and it is right to consider how we, as individual Christians, can live lives that please and glorify God. As we go through the practical section, we will come across things that we must apply to our personal (and even private) lives. But never forget that the letters were written to groups of Christians. In looking at this section you have to bear in mind all that has gone before in ‘Ephesians.’ Jews and Gentiles have been brought into a new,united community in Christ. The old hostility and divisions have been removed. So in these verses Paul exhorts the church to be the church. The church is ‘’one body’’ (4). There is a ‘’unity’’ (3) in the church that is already given by ‘’the Spirit’’. But we Christians have an urgent responsibility to ‘’Make every effort…’’ to maintain this unity. Like in a marriage, where two become one, everyday there has to be work to express that oneness. Total humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, love – these qualities oil the wheels of a marriage. They also enable Christian brothers and sisters to live out their God-given unity, even though as people they may be so different. One of the main reasons why the Christian community doesn’t always look like the united ‘body’ God has made it to be is down to the level of our ‘effort.’ We have to continually work at being the church God is calling us to be. When we live together humbly, gently, patiently, with forbearance and love, we live lives worthy of our calling.
In verses 4 to 6, Paul makes reference to the triune God: ‘’…one Spirit…one Lord…one God and Father…’’ The unity the church is called to is like the unity in the Trinity. It is a unity in diversity. Yet it is a unity of complete harmony. As we will see in the next study, we are all so different, and that’s a good thing. But although we may bring a variety of gifts to the table, we are one people in Christ. God wants that to be obvious to the world, and it will be an utterly compelling reality (John 17:20-23). A united church is a powerful evangelistic argument in itself.
Prayer: Loving Lord Jesus, I can see that the unity of your church means so much to you. You bled and died for it. May that unity never be damaged or broken at my hands. As far as it lies within me to do so, I want to live at peace with every other person in your church. This is my desire. Please give me your grace to be a unifying member of the body of Christ.