Summary: This is the first of four in a series on Ephesians 4. The main theme is the function of the church in the accomplishment of its mission.
Living in the Family of God
Getting Along in the Family
God’s Doctrinal Statement
For years I have resisted the notion of having a “doctrinal statement”. It’s not that we don’t know what we believe or that we don’t want you to know. It’s just that I have a hard time rewriting what God has revealed so well through the Apostle Paul.
Ephesians 4:1-6 gives the foundation for Christian belief.
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, urge you to live in a way that is worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, along with patience, accepting one another in love. Do your best to maintain the unity of the Spirit by means of the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit. In the same way, you were called to the one hope of your calling. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, through all, and in all.
God’s Family Values
Live in a way that is worthy of the calling
First: Paul again refers to himself as a prisoner
He had been taken captive by Jesus and no longer was in control of his own life. He had no longer any choice. He belonged to Jesus and His suggestion was Paul’s command. His desire was a demand to Paul.
What we are speaking of here is something commonly referred to as “commitment”
I was speaking with a friend this past week at breakfast and heard him say something like this, “How do we get the people to be committed?”
It is a question I have heard before and occasionally I have asked myself. There is so much to do in any family ad this is especially true in the church family – yet instead of working together we often – to avoid conflict – fail to work at all.
Yes, Virginia there is conflict in the family…
There was certainly conflict in my family.
When our two oldest girls, Shannon and Sandi, were in High School I was pretty certain that neither would live past their eighteenth birthday. If they didn’t kill each other there was a very good possibility I would.
When they were little they were cute but in their teens they were always fighting about something - usually clothes.
One Saturday afternoon while their mom was gone for groceries I was reading in the family room and WWIII began - over a pair of jeans. And they weren’t even new! Just some only torn, smelly, frayed, blue jeans.
I counted to ten thousand, backwards, three times - just hoping it would all just go away or that Donna would come home. It didn’t and she didn’t so I decided I would have to act.
Their punishment would have to be one that they would remember for a long time. And the fact is that they do remember - it comes up every Christmas and family get-together. I make sure of it!
I made Shannon and Sandi sit on two kitchen chairs, facing each other, about one foot apart. Then I set the timer on the oven for fifteen minutes and told them that they had to look at each other - in the eyes - while smiling for the entire time.
They didn’t think that their punishment was too bad until I said, "If you look away from one another or quit smiling, even for a second, I’ll reset the timer we’ll start over."
Both Shannon and Sandi looked at me like I was insane and maybe I was a little crazy at that moment.
Anyway, I stood there in the kitchen and watched them grinning at each other until the corners of their faces began to ache and the anger in their eyes melted. The last five minutes they kept their eyes open and grins up with their fingers. Both faces were contorted into a mask of weird gleeful surprise.
When the buzzer on the oven sounded and they were released from the grinning prison it was with a solemn prophesy. I told them that someday they would be friends and they would love each other.
Well, over ten years or so have passed and today they are friends, they love each other, and enjoy getting their families together. And they still remember their aching faces and burning eyes.
Living in a family isn’t always easy - there are times we don’t get along so good. Even in church there are moments of anger and frustration.
It’s important to remember that what holds us together is mightier than what pulls us apart.
Let’s learn to get along here because some day we will live in mansions right along side one another. Who knows? God may even suggest you sit and grin at each other in heaven till you get along!