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?
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Table of contents
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 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 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. 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.
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All Posts In This Series
- Ephesians: A Brief Introduction - This brief introduction to Ephesians will share some thoughts about the authorship, dating, audience, and purpose of this profound letter.
- Ephesians: Spiritual Blessings (1:3-14) - God has given his spiritual blessings to us in the heavenly realm. And we have these blessings because we are in Christ.
- Ephesians: A Prayer for Believers (1:15-23) - In Ephesians 1:15-23, Paul's prayer for his readers is a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that they could know God better.
- Ephesians: From Death Into Life, An Act of Grace (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 and seated with Christ.
- Ephesians: Amazing Grace (2:8-10) - Grace. More specifically God's grace, his unmerited favor towards us. But it is concerned with much more than my salvation.
- Ephesians: Tearing Down the Wall of Hostility (2:11-22) - Jesus' death on the cross tore down the dividing wall of hostility separating Jew from Gentile. In his death, the law is fulfilled.
- Ephesians: A Mystery Revealed (3:1-13) - The revealed mystery is that the barrier that separated Jew from Gentile has been eliminated, and has been replaced by a new humanity.
- Ephesians: Rooted and Established In Love (3:14-21) - Paul prays that the Ephesians would be rooted and established in love, a suitable dwelling place for the Holy Spirit.
- Ephesians: Walking Worthy (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.
- Ephesians: Growing a Mature Church (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.
- Ephesians: Put on the New Self (4:17-32) - How can I be an effective member of the body of Christ? Take off the old self and put on a new self. One made in the image of Christ.
- Ephesians: Imitators of God (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.
- Ephesians: Life in the Family (5:21-6:9) - Paul's instructions to first century families contains useful information for families today. It also contains advice for workplace relationships.
- Ephesians: The Bride of Christ (5:25-32) - One image of the church in the New Testament is the Bride of Christ. It pictures the intimate relationship between Christ and his church.
- Ephesians: Spiritual Warfare (6:10-20) - A spiritual battle is raging all around us. Take up the armor God provides, stand your ground, and join in the fight.
The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.
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