Chewing on the first part of Ephesians 4 this morning, verses 1 through 16. And what hits me is that what I have so often read as something directed toward me, is actually, I think, more directed toward we.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called . . .
(Ephesians 4:1 ESV)
My first inclination is to receive Paul’s exhortation in an individualistic manner. That I need to walk in a manner worthy of my calling. That it’s a call for me to walk as a trophy of grace, the workmanship of God, a pursuer of Christ. But what grabs me is that Paul doesn’t tell me what to do, but instead how to be. Doesn’t provide a list of actions, but a list of attitudes. Doesn’t tell me how to respond as a lone Christian, but how to relate to others as a member of the Body of Christ. Kind of a “two-by-four-over-the-back-of-the-head” reminder that I’m not meant to walk alone.
. . . walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you 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. There is one body and one Spirit . . .
(Ephesians 4:1b-4a ESV)
While we are called as individuals, we are not called to walk individually. The worthy manner of walking in Christ is realized as we walk together. In a sense, I don’t need humility, gentleness, or patience if I’m going it alone. Don’t need to esteem others better than myself if I’m not doing life with others. Patiently bearing with one another doesn’t come into play if I only think of the Christian walk revolving around this one, the guy in the chair.
Rather, the worthy walk is one that is done in the context of needing to be eager, or to strive, to maintain the unity created by the Spirit. Not really much of a striving if I only need to be unified with myself. But interweave a bunch of people into my world and let the effort begin. There is not just one, and that one me. But there is one body.
We’re not meant to walk alone.
Read on in this passage and it’s all about how we are to mature “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (v.13). And we’re to do it together.
Though “each one” of us is given his own gift out of the grace-fueled generosity of Christ, the gifts are not meant to be used alone. Gifts are given to individuals “for building up the body of Christ” (v.12). The manner of walk that is a worthy manner is one that bears fruit through believers that grow up in their faith. And that only happens in the context of 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” (v.16).
We’re not meant to walk alone. The “manner worthy” walk is the walk of a group of people. People who, apart from the gospel, might never naturally do life together. But people, who because of the gospel, have been called into community to walk together. And that, in a manner worthy of their calling.
The worthy walk is the corporate walk. Not that we don’t pursue, nurture, and abide in a “personal relationship” with Christ. But we do so in preparation to walk in partnered relationship with the Bride of Christ. Our brothers and sisters. Our family.
We’re meant to walk together.
By His grace. For His glory.