As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.Ephesians 4:1-6 NIV
What does it mean to walk worthy of our calling? Are we expected to be perfect? Or is this something that imperfect humans are capable of?
The Portuguese Man o’ War
One of the most fascinating creatures to me is the Portuguese Man o’ War. Many people mistakenly think of the Man o’ War as a jellyfish, but in reality, while bearing a superficial resemblance, it is something else altogether.
The Man o’ War is actually a colony of four distinct types of polyps. The float/sail is a single polyp and the original polyp of the colony. Attached to the sail are collections of three additional polyps; one for food capture, a second for digestion, and a third for reproduction. This colony of organisms is so tightly integrated together that they are unable to survive apart from the colony. The only exception to this is the sail polyp from which all the others are formed.
So what does this have to do with walking worthy? In Ephesians 4:1-6 Paul urges us to walk worthy of the calling we have received. He then proceeds to tell us to be humble, gentle, patient, put up with each other, and make every effort to live in peace. Followed by a long list of things for which there is only one: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God & Father.
Paul has been talking about what Christ has done to heal the division between Jew and Gentile; working to produce a single man; 2:11-22. He then discussed the revealed mystery of Christ, that we are to be members of one body; 3:2-6. And he is going to go on from here to challenge us to live as a single body growing and building itself up in love; 4:11-16. The common theme to all of these passages is that the body of Christ, rather than being like a herd of zebras racing across the savanna as independent creatures who travel together, should seek to mimic the Man o’ War, to be a single body.
A Worthy Body Part
If I am called to be a part of a body, then how do I walk worthy of that calling? Some will look at this expression and see in it a call to live such a good life that I become worthy of God’s calling. But given the context, I believe he means something else altogether. I walk worthy of my calling as a body part by doing my best as that part, losing myself for the good of the body.
The body parts for the Man o’ War are simple; you’re either transportation, food capture, digestion, or reproduction. There is no question about your role, and each member of the colony does its job to the fullest. The body of Christ is much more complex, with many more parts, and each part with a history of acting independently. But nonetheless, I believe the Man o’ War has a powerful lesson to teach the body of Christ in the unity we are called to achieve.
How to Walk Worthy
Walking worthy of being a body part is actually pretty hard for me, it is contrary to my nature. So how can I pull it off? By being completely humble, by being patient, by bearing with other body parts in love, by making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (4:2-3). All of those actions are concerned with interpersonal relationships within the body; looking to put the interests of the body ahead of my own. The Man o’ War does that and prospers as a colony, resulting in the individual members also prospering. Is it not possible that if we all put the good of the body ahead of our own good that the body would prosper, and that as it did we would also?
Questions to Consider
- Are you walking worthy of your calling? If not, what steps might you take to be worthy?
- How has God equipped you to serve the body of Christ? All believers have been. If you do not know your place, please consider what it might be. And then be that body part.
You are welcome to respond to these questions in the comment section below. If you do, be sure to check the “Notify me” checkbox just above the Post Comment button so you can get any feedback. Note that all comments are moderated. Only respectful comments relevant to the topic will be posted.
- Ephesians: A Brief Introduction
- Ephesians: Spiritual Blessings (1:3-14)
- Ephesians: A Prayer for Believers (1:15-23)
- Ephesians: From Death Into Life, An Act of Grace (2:1-7)
- Ephesians: Amazing Grace (2:8-10)
- Ephesians: Tearing Down the Wall of Hostility (2:11-22)
- Ephesians: A Mystery Revealed (3:1-13)
- Ephesians: Rooted and Established In Love (3:14-21)
- Ephesians: Walking Worthy (4:1-6)
- Ephesians: Growing a Mature Church (4:11-16)
- Ephesians: Put on the New Self (4:17-32)
- Ephesians: Imitators of God (5:1-20)
- Ephesians: Life in the Family (5:21-6:9)
- Ephesians: The Bride of Christ (5:25-32)
- Ephesians: Spiritual Warfare (6:10-20)