I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
7 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it is said,
“When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
he gave gifts to his people.”
As I meditated on this passage what struck me was “making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit.” Here Paul says that it is hard work to maintain unity… something that anyone that has spent time in the church or with human beings, knows takes effort… and he says that this is a spiritual practice. He gives us the tools in the previous verse in that we have to make the effort to be humble and gentle with patience we bear one another in love. Many times in myself I have the thought that church would be great if it was not for this guy or that guy. Yet, the effort is not with me changing the other guy but allowing Christ Jesus to change and transform me into a more humble and loving guy. I think this the greatest challenge within the Gospel… letting go of my wanting to be God and allow God to change me. When we allow God to work on us, then we start to live worthy of God’s calling.
Usually, we think of calling in terms of vocation. God is calling us to ministry, we say, meaning becoming a professional teacher, preacher or missionary, which there is a certain amount of truth to say so. Yet calling here in this passage goes deeper and expands calling from what we do for a living to our whole being and identity in Christ. Living a live worth our calling is living a life where we bear one another in love. We take the time for one another and we gather in the name of Jesus in all of our interactions and encounters with everyone.
In all human interaction arise the potential to encounter God. The person who is working customer care over the phone at our local utility. The guy that annoys at church who you are not to certain about because he spouts crazy conspiracy theories about bar codes. In all encounters, we have the possibility of discovering the revealed risen Lord who is always with us until the end of the age. When we find Jesus in all of our interactions with others, we have confront our own limitations and weakness or in other words humility forces itself on us. I am not the God who can save, but can point to the God who can. When we find God, we find how he dealt with us gently and we can extend such gentleness to others. Yes, it takes effort and the Gospel is not an invitation to live in autopilot with God handling the controls, but God graciously allows our efforts life a father who lets his son experiment with legos and doesn’t step to show him the right way to do it. We grow in love and Christ due to the effort. Will we fail to bear one another in love. Yes. But God picks up the fallen toddler we are and allows us to try again in forgiveness. We learn and we become closer to others and God.