Ephesians 4:1-16

“Let’s Grow Up”

August 5 2018

            When I was growing up, our family would take long trips in the summer.  One memorable trip was in the summer of 1961 — I was 5  – when we drove out west — quite an exciting trip filled with stops in Texas — Las Vegas — the Grand Canyon — Disneyland — Colorado Springs — Dodge City, Kansas — and many other stops along the way.  For those of you who don’t already know — I have 2 older sisters — Olivia is 8 years older than I and Alexa is 4 years older than I.  We got along pretty well on that particular trip.           Sometimes, though, we would fight and argue.  We’d go for miles yelling — whining — pouting — and making Mom and Dad miserable.  To be honest, I was the main instigator most of the time. .  Finally — Dad would have enough. He’d pull the Station Wagon off to the side of the road — threaten us — usually make good on his threats if he didn’t think we were taking him seriously enough. Sometimes he would  make us sit in separate seats of our Station Wagon.  I usually had to sit in the very back with the luggage — in the seat the faced the rear – which to be honest was not that bad – I always had some toys stashed in the back and could keep myself occupied happily – while Olivia and Alexa had to sit and not say a word. Whenever Mom or Dad would have to lecture us — they’d usually say — “I wish that y’all would just grow up!”

            Maybe some of you can identify with this picture from my past. Sometimes we do wish that others would grow up — and guess what — sometimes others wish that we would, too.

Just grow up! That’s what Paul is admonishing the members of the church in Ephesus to do!  Just grow up!  Grow up in Christ! Paul has been talking about the need for unity for 3 chapters — now he begins to talk about why that unity is so necessary — and how it can be achieved. 

“lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

  making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”.

Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called Paul writes.   A life worthy of the calling to which you have been called. What is this “worthy” life Paul is calling upon the Christians in Ephesus to live?  While the life worthy of the calling to which you have been called can be considered many things — in this particular context Paul is saying that the “life worthy of the calling to which you have been called” is a life of unity and responsibility — particularly unity and responsibility  as we relate to each other as a church — the Body of Christ. 

            Unity Responsibility. These are goals for us as a church.  Sometimes we are lagain — sometimes we aren’t!  The times we show our unity — the times we have a commitment to work together as a church for God’s glory and the benefit of the community and the world — are signs of our maturity.  They are signs of how far we have “grown up in Christ”.  On the other hand — the times of our disunity — the times we don’t work together and even show signs of not taking responsibility for the work of the church — or even show division in our church — are times of our immaturity — and signs of how far we need to “grow up in Christ.”

Let’s grow up! Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called — Paul  begs.

But — why? You may wonder why we should  grow up in Christ — why we should live a life that is worthy of the calling to which we have been called — why we should take responsibility for the work of the church — why we should mature in our love for God and others. Because Paul says so? Well — that’s a pretty good reason — but Paul gives us an even better reason.  It’s because — Paul writes —

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling,  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.”

            There is one body. There is one Spirit. There is just one hope of your calling. There is  one Lord. There is one faith. There is one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. As Christians we have one body — the body of Christ — one Lord — Christ — one faith — faith in Christ — one God and Father of all — and only one! Since we have one body and one Spirit, one hope of our calling,  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all  — we should be one unified church – united in doing our part and working together for our common goal – which is to show God to the world. 

            Sometimes we work together — have a sense that we are all united – that every one of us has a part in the work of the church – and everyones’ part is needed – but sometimes we do not.    Sometimes we might feel that one person in the church is more important than the others — that what one person does is more important than what another one does. Sometimes we might feel that we are that person!

            Paul urges us to not think in this way – not to feel there are “superstars” in the church – but that we all have something to offer – and each one of us – and what each of us can offer — is needed.

Paul calls us to be a church of mature Christians —  united in God’s love – – sure of the gifts God has given each of us – and united in the commitment to use these gifts to do God’s will in the world.   We are to be Christians who grow up in Christ. But — how do we do this? This is certainly not easy — how do we do it? Paul gives us some specifics of how we can do this.

“with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love”

            Humility. Gentleness. Patience. Bearing with one another in love

            These are some of the qualities we need to grow up in Christ — if we are going to work for the unity of the church and be a church where each person uses their gifts for the work of the church and the glory of God.

            These are not qualities that come to us automatically —  even as Christians.

            The word Paul uses for “humility” here literally means “God-controlled.”  That’s the secret to maturity — to growing up in Christ — letting God control you. 

Most of the time we want to be “in control” — and pride ourselves in the control we have over our lives.  Paul, though, is begging us to have lives that are controlled by God.  If we all had lives that are more God-controlled and less self-controlled, we could all be more humble, gentle, patient, and bear with one another better.  We could become more grown up in Christ.

            But — does this mean we all must think alike and act alike? Does growing up in Christ mean that we are just clones of each other — always thinking the same thoughts and doing the same things? No — it doesn’t! Remember that Paul says that God gives different gifts to each of us.  One of us may be able to teach — another to make administrative decisions — another to fix things — another to cook — still another to serve – another to sing – God has given us all many, many gifts.  Why did God give us these gifts? God gives us our gifts and abilities so we can use them — and so the church and the world can benefit from them. 

            As Paul put it:

“The gifts He gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,

 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

  until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ,”

Growing up in Christ is letting God control you — being a God-controlled person — discovering what particular gifts God has given you — then using your particular gifts to — as Paul put it — “build up the body of Christ.” 

            Don’t feel that your particular gift – the particular thing you can contribute – is better than anyone elses’ —  but also don’ts feel your particular gift – the particular thing you can contribute – is less than anyone elses’. Discover your particular gifts —  the unique things you can offer for the work of the church – – and the work of God in the world — then use them for the good of the church and the world.  When we all grow up in Christ, we’ll all use our gifts as God calls us to — and the church will be like a body that works harmoniously together — getting the work done that needs to be done — and giving glory to God in the process. 

            When we all grow up in Christ we’ll be able to put aside disagreements and learn to work together. We’ll learn what our unity in Christ is all about — and we’ll work together to show the world our one Lord — one faith – one God and Father of us all.  Amen