Paul, in Ephesians 4, challenges me to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which I 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.
I then wonder what my calling is. Apart from treasuring and obeying Jesus, enjoying God, and loving people (those are a lifelong calling), I think callings may change with seasons. For the past four years, a calling of mine has been to do my best in school, honoring the Lord with my actions, choices, and behavior in college.
Now, in this very current season — wedding planning and life transitions — my calling is to allow the Holy Spirit to help me continue to grow into Christ. Small tests of patience, the strength to forgive, the power to love and be gracious, the ability to let go. Growing into Christ, steadily.
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.
The idea of one is unifying, foundational, stabilizing… don’t you think? It helps my focus. When my attention strays, it feels a tug back to one thing. Always One.
But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
[And he gave] to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
I’m sure this context leans more toward ministry work, but in its structure I find a challenging hope of God. He gave grace to equip me for work that reflects His Kingdom, to build up His people… to mature me, to help me get to a place where I can be more full of Christ, to be more like Him. This, in turn, helps me not be tossed by life’s hard waves or carried away by other’s sin or humanness.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the Head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
In the past I have looked at this passage very closely. But the eyes through which I read it now have the scope drawn back far. I am to grow up in every way into Christ. Christ, in whom the body (His people, the Church) is created, held together, and equipped. Growth can be small, it can seem trivial, it can be leaps, or it can be tiny steps. Growth can be physical, mental, emotional, but always spiritual. Growing in Christ is about a direction, I think. What am I growing up in? What am I growing toward?
In Christ. Growing in every way into Him. Gathered in Him, found in Him. Equipped in Him.
And, in love. This passage is also a reminder to not only do things in love, but that it happens by love. Love is the means God burns away sin. Love is the best space for growth and change. And what I’ve learned over the past year is that love sometimes doesn’t look like love. It can be tough love, it can be disciplinary love. Sometimes what is best isn’t always easy, and oftentimes what seems easy isn’t really love.
In Love. A daily reminder and challenge for me.