Ephesians 4: 1-2
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.
Romans 12: 1-3
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.
When our little four year old boy does something naughty or bold, often we will say something like this to him: "Elijah, this is not who you are. You are kind, you are sharing, you are loving." We're trying to remind him of who he really is and encouraging him to live from his best character.
Paul does something similar here in Ephesians. He has just spent the first 3 chapters of this letter talking about our identity, that is, who we are and all that we have in Christ. As we move into chapter 4, he starts to explain how this new identity is practically applied in how we live our everyday lives.
Paul also does this in other letters like Romans and Colossians. He outlines all that God has done for us, all that Jesus has made available to us, and then he gets down to practicalities - this is how we respond.
The order he places them in is very important. It's belief and then behaviour, because how we think will always impact how we live. Our self-identity will become our reality.
Paul exhorts the Ephesian church to: “…walk in a manner worthy of the calling you have received.” (v. 1) In other words, live out of the new reality of who you now are in Jesus Christ. Don’t just know it in your head, walk it out. Don’t just let it be theory, walk it out. Don’t settle for a faith which is all talk, walk it out. Every single day, everywhere you go and with everyone you meet, walk out your new identity, live out your calling in Christ Jesus.
This word ‘walk’ doesn’t mean literally do some sort of peculiar Christian walk. It’s a word that’s used throughout the Bible and it refers to your lifestyle or pattern of behaviour. You have a new life, therefore this will inevitably show itself in a new lifestyle.
Notice Paul didn’t say: 'fly', 'sprint', 'run' or 'charge'. Simply 'walk'. Day by day, step by step, live a life which reflects who you now are in Christ. Sometimes it will be big steps, at other times it might be smaller steps, but don’t stop, don’t get stuck, keep walking, keep obeying, keep growing, keep moving forward. It’s a life of daily, passionate, radical, uncompromising obedience to what God says.
Paul knows what he's talking about. Note how he refers to himself: "...a prisoner of the Lord." He's practising what he's preaching. His obedience to Jesus, his unwillingness to compromise, his stance for the Gospel, has landed him in jail. He has credibility when he tells us to live out our calling.
We’ve already seen in chapters 1-3 that we've been empowered to live a new life, we’ve been equipped and resourced for it, God is able to do abundantly more than we could imagine in our lives - now we just need to walk it out.
As the week progresses, we'll discover that this new way of living is especially demonstrated in our relationships with one another. This call that Paul talks about isn't just individual, it's collective. Our new life in Jesus doesn't only impact our relationship with God, it transforms every other relationship and has implications for our everyday interactions.
Today perhaps you're feeling stuck, maybe you've stumbled, you might be struggling to move on from something in your past. Can I encourage you to get back up and simply start walking in His ways again. His call is always greater than your fall.