Chapter four kicks off the second half of the book of Ephesians with a greater focus on practical living as opposed to the thick doctrinal focus in the first three chapters. The primary point for this second half is to live a life worthy of the calling (as expressed in the previous chapters) through unity in the Body of Christ and personal holiness. Here are my reflections:
- Who we are and what we have in Christ matters. The weight of every command in this chapter in following is completely based in the riches that God has poured out for us in Christ. We must never forget God’s incredible generosity and how it defines the focus of our life.
- We have been called greatly & we have been called first. It is a great calling and it can be overwhelming… how do we honor the God who has greatly honored us? But we have also been called first… which means that we do not earn the riches, but the riches have been given and we are simply trying to live in light of them.
- We must have an attitude of unity. There are types of attitudes that can cause division, (you’ve seen them, maybe you’ve had one) but there are also attitudes that encourage and foster unity. These are: humility, gentleness and patience. These are not easy characteristics, they take work, but they unify the church and God cares immensely about that.
- The church is unified, but it is also diverse and gifted. Paul gives us two little blips on the gifts. In the first, he mentions that to each one grace is given as Christ apportioned it. Everyone in the body has a gift and that gift is important and necessary for the body! This makes up the diversity of the church and shows how everyone has a part! Secondly, Paul mentions some particular gifts – ones that are essential for the growth and protection of the church. Pastors can understand this as, “Wow, I’m a gift to you… aren’t I so great!” or “Wow, God has given me to you, how may I be of continual service to His church.” I think you see the diference.
- We need a better understanding of our role in growth. The teaching, the instruction, the giving of the word by the people God has placed in your church is not just for your individual growth. Hear this! Too often we are so concerned with whether or not we are “being fed,” whether or not each sermon hits that magical spot that causes me to grow miraculously and makes my inner spirit all warm and tingly…. Paul says, Knock it off! See the bigger picture! Is the word being given to feed you, yes, but not just you… and you shouldn’t be “eating” just so that you grow, taking no part in the growth of the whole body! It is for the whole church! And you have a part in it. Paul is clearly calling us to mutual responsibility for the growth of this church!
- We need to be the wonder of the Church. God saw it fit in his plan to take a divided people and unite them together to display his glory and wisdom… we should therefore desire greatly to be those people… united; declaring to the world that we are his disciples by loving one another.
- Sometimes the world seems attractive. At that time Paul felt it was necessary to remind the church that they should not be just like the world around them. The world gets to live for it’s self and in the moment that is what sounds best. But it is not, not even for us… so Paul takes his readers into the heart of the self focused life.
- The self-focused life is delusional. If you’re living for yourself and you’ve rejected Christ as your King then your world is upside-down and dark. This doesn’t mean your dumb or not intelligent… but it does mean that you’re missing out on the right kind of intelligence: The ability to grasp the truth of God and the Good News of Jesus Christ.
- The self-focused life is unsatisfying. This is sort of a paradox: if you live your life for your own satisfaction, then you will never be satisfied. Because ultimate satisfaction cannot be found with you at the center of your purpose and pleasure… It can only be found in seeking God above all else.
- The Christ-focused life is one of great learning and growth. Christ is the ultimate subject, the ultimate teacher and the ultimate environment for learning to take place. He is ready to help us grow… we cannot grow without Him… we cannot chose the new life without Him.
- The (Christ-focused) new life is not like the old. It is markedly different… it looks different because it is different.
- The change has already happened . If you are in Christ you are already new… live like it!
- The change is occurring right now. The Holy Spirit is actively renewing your mind, patterning it after the mind of Christ rather than your old ways of thinking. It’s a process and it takes time, but praise God that He is the one involved, so work with Him as He works in you!
- In Christianity, the rules are based in the relationship. Everything that Paul tells us to do or to not do is based first and foremost in the relationship we have to Christ. These are not rules to earn favor or position with Christ, but rather because we are already in Christ and because He is at work in us we should live a certain way. This is how we honor the One who has given us the greatest of honors. So we should cherish the opportunity to be given commands that will allow our lives to bring joy the Father.
- In Christianity, the rules have a personal purpose and a community purpose. Each command about lying, stealing, anger, etc. has first an application to our own lives, obeying will lead us to greater personal holiness, but they also are intended for the sake of the Body of Christ. Each command builds up the unity of the church, helps those in the church who have less, or helps us to keep the devil away from taking advantage of us. Remember, when we seek holiness it is also for the Church. When we sin, it is also to the detriment of the Church.
- In Christianity, the rules will be followed and they will be broken. This does not mean that those who are able to follow them better can lord it over those who are going through a hard time or are just barely making it by. Paul’s next-to-final admonition in this section is that we be people who deal with each other (especially when failing in sin) with kindness, compassion and forgiveness. Paul knows that we will fail, and when we do, these are the qualities that are to be expressed toward the fallen… because Christ has dealt with us and our sin in the same way.
- In Christianity, the rules can be summed up: “Be imitators of God & live a life of love.” We are His children and we are to exhibit the familial likeness. What’s our model? Jesus Christ on the cross, showing the greatest love of all. This is the standard of our love. This is how we display the glory of God. Love one another.