Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Paul calls for us, the body of Christ to be a unity. Are we?

First Baptist Church

November 3. 2002

Ephesians 4:1-6


Maybe you missed it or maybe you even watched it and didn’t even notice it. When the San Francisco Giants starting line up was announced, during the World Series, each player would jog over to the first base line, and they would give five or shake hands with one another, then they’d get in line. When their star player Barry Bonds, was introduced, he jogged to his spot in line, avoiding the other players. When you think about a team, it takes all 25 players on a baseball team to win or lose. Bonds may be the best hitter in baseball, but he is not the only player on the Giants.

On the other hand, at last years Super Bowl, the New England Patriots didn’t announce their star players before the game, so that the star could run onto the field to the cheering crowd, instead, the team was announced and they all ran onto the field together. You see, they were unified — Win as One or Lose as One. As we can all remember, they didn’t have a prayer to win the Super Bowl, but they did. Anyone know who they beat? Possibly they won because, in part they were unified.

In today’s scripture Paul brings out the fact that the church is supposed to be one. We are supposed to be unified. It doesn’t mean that we have to agree on everything, it doesn’t mean we have the same gifts, talents and skills. In many respects we are called to be unified and at the same time to celebrate our diversity.

In the book of Ephesians, more than in any of Paul’s other letters,18 times, Paul says the church is supposed to be a unity and that we share the same faith. Read through the book of Ephesians and you’ll begin to think Paul is repeating himself. And you’d be right. He is. He believes and so does Jesus that unity is not just a good thing, but it’s a must in the church. What Paul is telling us is crucial for the church. If First Baptist Church wants to be the church that Jesus Christ has called us to be, then we must adhere to Paul’s words.

In 4:1, Paul doesn’t tell us, he urges and even begs us to do something. Paul wants every person who proclaims Jesus is Lord, Savior, and Forgiver of their lives to live in a very particular manner. Notice what Paul says in verse 1, he "begs us to lead a life worthy of our calling, for we have been called by God." Do you understand what this means? It’s crucial to who we are and how we’re supposed to live our lives.

What is our calling? It is more than anything else to believe that we have been redeemed by Jesus Christ. It is to believe that when we confess with our tongues and believe in our hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead, we are saved. It is to believe that our sins have been forgiven and even are remembered no more. It is to believe that we are a new creation, because when we confess Jesus, the old nature dies, and a new nature, a new person comes alive. . . And that person is a Christian.

When we are called by God it means we answer the call to live a life that is worthy of His calling. In other words, our conduct should be such that it brings honor to Christ in all that we do. With that in mind, Paul gives very concrete examples of what it means to live a worthy life.

Beginning in verse 2, Paul tells us to be not just humble, but be completely humble. The Greeks only used this word in a negative sense. But Paul wants us to use humble or humility in a positive manner. To be humble focuses on our thinking. It literally means "lowliness of mind." In other words, you don’t think too highly of yourself.

Humility is not thinking less of yourself, rather it’s seeing our lives as a gift from God. Any ability we have has been given to us by God. Through life’s experiences we develop and mature and we allow others to praise us, we don’t talk ourselves up.

Walter Cronkite, the famous newscaster tells the following story. He was sailing down the Mystic River in Connecticut, going through shallow water, when a boat filled with young people sped past him, shouting and waving their arms. Cronkite waved back a cheery greeting. His wife asked him, "Do you know what they were shouting?"

He replied, "Why, it was Hello, Walter."

"No," she said. "They were shouting, ""Low water, Low water."" Such are the problems when we are not too humble. {Ray Ellis and Walter Cronkite, North by Northeast.}

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