Summary: Because we have been called by God, we are to live worthy of that calling.
Title: Leading a Life Worthy
Text: Ephesians 4:1-16
Thesis: Because we have been called by God we are to live worthy of that calling.
Background/Setting the Stage:
The first three chapters of Ephesians may be thought of as speaking to God’s grace and our salvation and of our profession of faith in Christ.
“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is a gift from God – not of works so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork or workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10
Ephesians 4 – 6 speak more to the application of chapters 1 – 3. Chapters 4 – 6 speak to the way we live out our profession of faith or in other words, the practical aspects of our profession. So we may think of chapters 1 – 3 as the profession of our faith and chapters 4 – 6 as the practical application of our faith.
New Testament scholar Klyne Snodgrass sums it up as simply as this: “Right theology should lead to right conduct.” Klyne Snodgrass, The NIV Application Commentary, Ephesians, Zondervan, P.216)
I have really enjoyed the Olympics this year… the gymnast and swim teams have been so delightful to watch. I have been particularly blessed by the way they seem to love and support each other. I love seeing their hard work result in excellence in competition. My sense is that the athletes are pretty humble and are taking their successes in stride. And I love their joy. Missy Franklin is so much fun.
I am also pleased when professing Christians do the Christian community proud. After Gabby Douglas won the Gold in the Women’s All Around she was interviewed and the first thing out of her mouth was, “I give all the glory to God. It’s kind of a win, win situation. He gets all the glory and the blessings fall down on me.”
But sometimes Christians can be downright embarrassing to the Christian community.
This week I watched a shocking news story from Crystal Springs, Mississippi. The pastor of First Baptist Church was being interviewed. It seems on the eve of their wedding of a couple who attended the First Baptist Church, there was a congregational meeting in which a decision was made that no non-white weddings would be held in their church. And furthermore, if the pastor officiated that non-white wedding he would be fired. Never-the-less, the pastor quickly moved the wedding venue to a neighboring church and officiated the wedding there.
In the interview this is how he explained the situation to the media. “This had never been done here before, so it was setting a new precedent. There are those who reacted to that… I didn’t want to have a controversy within the church and I didn’t want a controversy to affect the wedding. I wanted to make their wedding special day.”
Meanwhile church officials said they would hold internal meetings to decide what to do if another non-white couple wanted to use their facility in the future. They also insisted that all races were welcome at their church.
What does a heartbreaking, division making, news making story like that have to do with us?
We are committed to becoming a spiritually healthy missional church. That means we are committed to pursuing Christ and those things that are important to Christ. We want to be spiritually alive in our relationships to God, each other and the world. This text speaks to how we do that in the spirit of unity.
We are called as individuals and as a congregation to lead a worthy life.
I. A worthy life
The Apostle Paul begins our text today with, “Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God.” Ephesians 4:1
I think the easiest way to get at understanding God’s Word is to unpack the text and in this case, word by word.
The first word is “therefore.” Whenever you read “therefore” in scripture you have to ask, “What is that there for?” The implication is that since you have professed faith in Christ now you need to walk the talk or live a life or practice a faith consistent with your profession of faith. “If God’s love is so great, if his salvation so powerful, if God has granted such reconciliation, then believers should live accordingly. They should value God’s love enough to be shaped by it.” (Klyne Snodgrass, The NIV Application Commentary, Ephesians, Zondervan, P.196)
B. Beg / Beseech
The second word is “beg” or “beseech.” This is no whimsical wish on the part of the Apostle Paul. He beseeches or begs that his readers lead a life worthy of their calling. It is more than an “ask” but something less than a “groveling” request. The implied effect of a good beseeching is that it results in a particular action. In this context he is urging the living a life worthy of God’s calling.