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
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 superficial resemblance, it is something else all together.
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 are 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 to make every effort to live at 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. And 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 none-the-less, 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 relationship 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?
All Posts In This Series
- A Brief Introduction to Ephesians: Who and Why - This brief introduction to Ephesians will share some of the ideas of authorship, audience and purpose that many scholars see, as well as my views.
- Spiritual Blessings – Ephesians 1:3-14 - God has given his spiritual blessings to us in the heavenly realm. And we have these blessing because we are in Christ. Praise God for all he has done.
- Prayer – Ephesians 1:15-23 - In Ephesians 1:15-23, Paul's prayer for the recipients of this letter is for a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that they could know God better.
- From Death Into Life: An Act of Grace – Ephesians 2:1-7 - In my natural state I was spiritually dead, separated from the life of God. But by his grace, I have been made alive, with a life that will never end.
- Amazing Grace – Ephesians 2:8-10 - Grace. More specifically God's grace. As believers we talk about it a lot, frequently defining it as God's unmerited favor towards us. And indeed it is. It is by God's grace that we are saved, and not by anything we can do (Ephesians 2:8). God's grace has dealt with our sin and we now have a future with him. It is unfortunate however that we often leave it there.
- Tearing Down Walls – Ephesians 2:11-22 - In Christ it makes no difference whether we are Jew or Gentile. We are all one body in him because of grace. It is by faith in what Jesus did that we come into relationship with God now; not by adherence to the commands and regulations of the law. Because observance of the law as a means to righteousness has been replaced by God's grace, we are all equally able to stand before God, not because of what I have done, but because of what he did.
- The Mystery of Christ – Ephesians 3:1-13 - And the mystery is not only that the barrier that separated Jews from Gentiles has been eliminated. But also that the need for a priestly intermediary has been removed. All believers now also serve as priests and each have direct access to the throne of God.
- Rooted and Established In Love – Ephesians 3:14-21 - Paul prays that the Ephesians would be rooted and established in love, a suitable dwelling place for the Holy Spirit.
- Walking Worthy – Ephesians 4:1-6 - What does walking worthy of our calling mean? In the context of Ephesians 4:1-6, it refers to our role in the body of Christ. Be the best member you can be.
- Growing a Mature Church – Ephesians 4:11-16 - Christ provides his church with the necessary equippers to that we can be a mature church, fully equipped to do the work he has called us to.
- Out With the Old, In With the New – Ephesians 4:17-32 - How do I live as an effective member of the body of Christ? It involves personal transformation, putting off the old self, and taking on the new self.
- Imitators of God – Ephesians 5:1-20 - Don't be like the world around you. Instead, be imitators of God by living a life of love, living as a child of the light, and living with wisdom.
- Married to Jesus – Ephesians 5:22-33 - One of the images for the church in the New Testament is the Bride of Christ. This image pictures the intimate relationship between Christ and his church.
- All In the Family – Ephesians 5:21-6:9 - Paul's instructions to first century families contains useful information for families today. It also contains advice for workplace relationships.
- Spiritual Warfare – Ephesians 6:10-20 - A spiritual battle is raging all around us. So take up the armor God provides so you can stand your ground and be engaged in that spiritual warfare.
- May 8, 2012: Original post
- August 31, 2018: Updated for content and SEO