If one were to read through the fourth chapter of Ephesians, one would read the writer’s appeal for unity amid diversity, and the writer’s appeal for a changed lifestyle within the worshiping community. It is a shame that this part of Ephesians isn’t looked at more often. Before this chapter of Ephesians, the writer offers three chapters as a memorial of God’s acts, God’s hand in the drama of salvation. Only after this story has been told – “by grace you have been saved,” does the writer continue on with his idea of realistic responses and responsibilities.
Note please that the grace given by God comes before any step by any human. God did not react, God was proactive about giving grace. God acted by sending grace in the form of His only Son, who went to the cross for each and every one of us.
It is up to us to react, to work for unity amid diversity, to work for a changed lifestyle within our community as a response to the grace given and poured into our lives. God’s saving actions precede God’s demands on our lives. We have already received grace, love, mercy, salvation… who therefore cannot in return give reverence, respect, obedience to God’s call on our lives?
Notice, the author of Ephesians does not call for everyone to live in one place, or to do one job, to live one life, but instead the author calls for all who follow Christ, to put away our old selves, to be renewed in the spirit of our minds. The author does not expect uniformity, but rather unity in diversity. God made us individuals, in response to God’s gifts to us, we are to find ways to use our individuality to support our larger community in love. The writer wants us to be together using all our gifts to give glory and honor to God, as we realize that God is the author of all our gifts, as well as our lives.
The author wants us to give up lying, even if it will benefit us, be honest in all our transactions, use no evil talk, but only that which is useful for building up. The last sentence of this chapter sums up what the author expects. I think this is something we can expect from one another. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.”
Some people would say that the author of Ephesians had a strange idea of community, and wonder what can be expected from people. I am not so sure that the author of Ephesians was wrong. What do you think?
Let’s talk about it.