The Way to Walk Together
With chapter four, Paul’s letter to the Ephesians turns from doctrine to the more practical matters regarding living a holy life—which was ever Paul’s chief concern. He repeats the matter of his imprisonment for preaching the gospel (3:1), a fact that lends weight to whatever he writes; that is, this is a man who has lived the Christian life and suffered for it who is speaking to us. Listen to Him!
And what does he urge the Ephesians (and us) to do? He urges them to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which [they] have been called.” This is so vitally important; indeed, if there is any test of the Christian life, that test is holiness—the desire, will, and the living out of the life of Christ in our day to day life before him and others. This is what it is to “walk.” The Christian life is a life of worship and devotion, but it must also consist in a manner of life which befits such worship and devotion. And just in case we miss the point, Paul even lists some of these virtues which must accompany how the Christian walks: humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another, and seeking “unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Now Paul is speaking here primarily of how Christians are to behave as a church body. The members of the body of Christ are to manifest such virtues as our Lord so plainly revealed when he walked among his disciples: What patience! What gentleness! How he put up with their shortcomings and faithlessness! How forgiving he was! These are the virtues that nurture unity within the body. And notice that we are to be “eager to maintain” this unity. I fear that we are too eager for some things like pressing our own opinions and not eager enough for unity. This does not mean that there is never a time for admonishing brothers and sisters who are not walking according to such a rule, but it does mean that such admonitions are more likely to be received by those who are walking this way. And these are the virtues members should shower upon one another as they show the world what a true community of people looks like.
But second, Christians should manifest such virtues before the world as well, and they are sorely lacking. Social media has had the unfortunate consequence of making all of us less civil, not to mention humble or patient or kind. Christians must use these tools with care. But it is too easy to hide behind a computer screen. Let us make sure that we display these virtues before others that they may see our “good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).