I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. – Ephesians 4:1-6 ESV
The idea of the church had at one time been a mystery, but now that it had been revealed and begun to spread throughout the world, Paul was on a mission to make sure that it lived up to its calling. When he refers to walking in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, Paul is talking about lifestyle, not physical fitness. He is addressing the church’s need to conduct itself in the world according to the plan God has laid out for it. The NET Bible translates the first two verses as, “I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called.” The calling each believer has received is the same. It is the calling of the Holy Spirit that allowed each and every individual who was once dead in their sins and blind to the reality of the gospel, to be able to hear and respond to the offer of salvation made possible through Jesus Christ. Jesus quite boldly and matter-of-factly claimed, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44 ESV). The Greek word John used is ἕλκω (helkō) and it means, “to draw by inward power, lead, impel” (“G1670 – helkō – Strong’s Greek Lexicon (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible). It was God who had made it possible for those Jews and Gentiles in Paul’s audience to come to faith in Christ. He is the one who called, impelled and drew them. It was He who placed them in the body of Christ. Now Paul wanted them to live up to that calling. In other words, he expected them to reflect their new nature and standing.
And Paul gets quite specific. He lists out humility, gentleness, patience and love as four visible characteristics of those who have been called or set apart by God. Each of the four are other-oriented. They take into account those with whom we live within the body of Christ. They each require a high degree of selflessness. Paul told the “called ones” in Philippi, “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:3-4 NLT). Then he went on to tell them, “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had” (Philippians 2:5 NLT). What kind of attitude or mindset did Jesus have? He was humble. He was willing to leave behind the glory of heaven and take on human flesh in order to provide redemption for mankind. He was a servant. Even though He was the Son of God and worthy of honor, He put aside His royalty and lived among humanity, so that He could serve those in bondage to sin and death. He was patient. He endured ridicule, rejection, taunts, false accusations and, ultimately, death at the hands of those He came to save. He could have destroyed them, but instead, He died for them. He was loving. As Paul will point on in the very next chapter of this letter, we are to emulate Christ’s example. “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God” (Ephesians 5:2 NLT).
Paul wants his readers to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3 ESV). There is a oneness and a unity within the church that is like nothing else in the world. We have all been called by God and not a one of us deserved that calling. We were all in the same place prior to hearing God’s call. We were lost. We were dead in our trespasses and sins. We were spiritually blind. We were separated from God. We were hopeless. And we were totally helpless to do anything about it. But God called and placed us within the body of Christ. He unified us, in spite of our differences. He gave us a common bond and a shared responsibility to live up to our new status as His children and heirs.
For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 6:26-28 NLT
Paul told the Colossian believers that he constantly prayed for them, asking God to give them complete knowledge of His will and spiritual wisdom and understanding. As a result of receiving those things, Paul said, “the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better” (Colossians 1:9-10 NLT). The way they lived their lives would be honoring and glorifying to God. And that was Paul’s desire for the believers in Ephesus as well.
In verses 4-6, Paul uses the word, “one” seven different times. It would seem that he was trying to make a point. Those believers to whom he was writing all had one thing in common: Their calling by God. But that calling was multidimensional. They were all called by one and the same Spirit of God. They were all placed in one body: the body of Christ. They were all called to the very same hope – their future glorification and the promise of eternal life. They all worshiped one Lord, as a result of one factor: faith. They had all experienced the unity of baptism. And all of it had been made possible by the one God and Father of all.
One God. One calling. One hope. One Lord. One church. One response: Live up to your calling.