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Ephesians 4:1-16

It can be difficult to get past the first verse.  The question becomes, what does it mean to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called?  In some ways, it seems as if this line is redundant, and there are actually three distinct Greek words that could be translated as “call” or “calling”:

Παρακαλῶ (parakalō), translated “beg,” is to call to or for, to encourage, to exhort.

Κλήσεως (klēseōsis) becomes the phrase, “of the calling.”

ἐκλήθητε (eklēthēte) becomes, “you have been called.”

It must be important.

In the church, we sometimes associate calling with specific ministry related vocations, but it should not be lost on us that Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is likely intended for a wider audience than usual. It lacks the meticulously detailed list of greetings that is common in the epistles. It is clearly written for the benefit of Gentile believers, but the theme of unity runs throughout. This is a letter for everyone, so it stands to reason that everyone must be called to something. But what is it? Sometimes I think we have made this more difficult than it needs to be. Perhaps, in the wise words of Dr. Seuss, “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is you-er than you.”

Every one of us may ask, am I the right person for this job? For this being me? Am I enough, regardless of the measure of grace given to me? You are. Is this grace enough? It is.

What a great start, but then other human beings enter the picture, and we have to be realistic enough to recognize that we live in a world (and in a culture) where we often have divergent beliefs and opinions, even among those whom we love deeply. Unity in diversity can be an enormous challenge, and maybe we should sit with this for awhile. We were never intended to be uniform in passions or even capabilities, but united in love. The list Paul does not leave out of this letter is the one that reminds us of how uniquely gifted each person is.

He talks about the community of the people of God as “the body,” both here and in other writings, and this is important, because we can all understand the significance of the diverse pieces of the physical body coming together to function as one. Humans, who have up to 78 organs, can (at least in theory) survive with only five of them basically intact. The heart, part of the liver, one kidney, one lung, and half a brain is the general consensus for the minimum necessary function to denote human life. How interesting is it that Paul chooses instead to focus on ligaments, which knit everything together? How many people, given the choice, would hope to be a ligament as opposed to the brain or the heart? Part of our unity problem may stem from a lack of humility and desire to function as a part of a community as opposed to the disembodied star of the show (spoiler alert: stars like that burn out pretty quickly).

As the church, we have to do better. We have to do better because we are the church, and we have to do better, because we love the church—the ‘big C’ Church and the ‘little c’ church, community built upon community—and perhaps if we focused more on who we were created to be than on how we might get ahead of others, we would sense the presence of God, filling us every step of the way. Maybe, we could truly embrace, “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things love,”[1] as it was meant to be.

[1] Often attributed to Augustine