On One Team
I am a prisoner because of the Lord. So I am asking you to live a life worthy of what God chose you for. Don’t be proud at all. Be completely gentle. Be patient. Put up with one another in love. The Holy Spirit makes you one in every way. So try your best to remain as one. Let peace keep you together. There is one body and one Spirit. You were appointed to one hope when you were chosen. There is one Lord, one faith and one baptism. There is one God and Father of all. He is over everything. He is through everything. He is in everything.
- Ephesians 4:1-6, (NIRV)
The best coaches I had as a runner were the ones who helped me believe something about who I was and who the team was of which I was a part. Of course, they gave great attention to what I did as well but, the best helped me understand who I was and who our team was. From an understanding of identity came far better practices and performances. Because, when the hard practices or bad performances happened, there was something to draw from. I wasn’t just my last race, good or bad. I was defined by something bigger than that as an athlete and teammate.
Paul is like a coach here in Ephesians 4. He’s given great attention to who the church is and who you are if you are a part of the church (Ephesians 1-3). As he turns his letter to specific actions, he wants us to draw on our identity. But, like any good coach, he isn’t content for us to simply understand who we are. He wants us to act on that identity. He wants us to live a life worthy of our identity as those united with Jesus. So he urges us to do just that. First calling us to humility, gentleness, and patience. Then he reminds us, “Put up with one another in love.” We can all be the problem child at some point along the way. We all need to be the one who loves someone else to put up with them. Our teammates aren’t going to get it all right. Honestly, we don’t and won’t either. So we need a coach who reminds us of the way to handle it; with giant doses of humility, gentleness, patience and heaps of love. Without all of that, we won’t be unified. Instead, we will split off with the people we like to be around. And then we will lose the very oneness and peace Jesus died to bring.
Paul closes by reminding us of all our team has in common: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father. You and I are together in this thing called Christian living! We have more that unites us than that could, or should, ever divide us. You are never alone. Our Great God has made it so. He is God, in charge of everything. He is God, working in everything that happens. He is God, present in everything.
For you to think on: Paul calls us to ‘walk worthy’ of our calling as one united with and following Jesus. We all had to learn how to walk. We all must learn how to walk worthy. If you had to think of your development as a Christ follower in terms of learning how to walk where would you describe yourself? Are you a toddler? Able to navigate stairs? Able to run? Going whole days (weeks, months) without falling? What has been helpful for your development as someone walking worthy of your calling? What has caused you to stumble?
For WEDnesday discussion:
-Paul calls us to be: humble, gentle and patient. Which of these are you best at? Which of these do you struggle with the most? What has been helpful to your growth in humility? Gentleness? Patience?
-“Put up with one another in love.” That’s a tall order. Share one example from your life were someone “put up” with you in love. Describe how that helped you grow. What can you do this week to love someone in a way that nurtures their relationship with Christ?
- Paul reminds us of our “ones”: body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, God and Father, so that we can remember to operate out of our unity. In a culture obsessed with the individual, how can you remind yourself that you are part of a whole? What are practical ways to increase our functionality as one?