Ephesians 4:1-16 (NRSV)
Chapter 4I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
Verse 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, Verse 3making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Verse 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, Verse 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, Verse 6one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. Verse 7But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift. Verse 8Therefore it is said, "When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people." Verse 9(When it says, "He ascended," what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? Verse 10He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) Verse 11The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, Verse 12to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, Verse 13until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. Verse 14We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people's trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. Verse 15But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, Verse 16from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body's growth in building itself up in love.
The chorus of a 70s song “They will know we are Christians, by our love, by our love” still brings shivers to me. In those days, we dreamt of living out the Johannine vision where love for God and love for siblings in Christ are inseparable.
However, still repeating that chorus, how often have I asked, “Will people really know that we are Christians by our love? As a retired pastor and aging storyteller living out the final chapters of my own story, I look back and fear my failings rise higher than my accomplishments.
Even though I am an encourager who has had positive influences on many people, I still hope for more. I want to unite followers of the one God and Father of us all, who live in the one faith, and one baptism. I hope and trust that together we can, with God’s help, show our love for each other and transform this world.
Transforming God, shake us up. Show us our faults, but then unite us in love for you and for the world. Amen.