Whenever you set of on a journey, you end up travelling with people who are going the same way. Be that on public transport or travelling down the road in the apparently private bubble of your car, your journey is affected by others on the same route. You cannot choose your travelling companions, they are all just people trying to get to the same place as you. Some may be commuters, some day-trippers, some on their way to difficult or important appointments, but you’re all going the same way at the same time.
Unity with Christ
4 As a prisoner of the Lord, I beg you to live in a way that is worthy of the people God has chosen to be his own. 2 Always be humble and gentle. Patiently put up with each other and love each other. 3 Try your best to let God’s Spirit keep your hearts united. Do this by living at peace. 4 All of you are part of the same body. There is only one Spirit of God, just as you were given one hope when you were chosen to be God’s people. 5 We have only one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. 6 There is one God who is the Father of all people. Not only is God above all others, but he works by using all of us, and he lives in all of us.
7 Christ has generously divided out his gifts to us. 8 As the Scriptures say,
“When he went up
to the highest place,
he led away many prisoners
and gave gifts to people.”
9 When it says, “he went up,” it means that Christ had been deep in the earth. 10 This also means that the one who went deep into the earth is the same one who went into the highest heaven, so that he would fill the whole universe.
11 Christ chose some of us to be apostles, prophets, missionaries, pastors, and teachers, 12 so that his people would learn to serve and his body would grow strong. 13 This will continue until we are united by our faith and by our understanding of the Son of God. Then we will be mature, just as Christ is, and we will be completely like him.
14 We must stop acting like children. We must not let deceitful people trick us by their false teachings, which are like winds that toss us around from place to place. 15 Love should always make us tell the truth. Then we will grow in every way and be more like Christ, the head 16 of the body. Christ holds it together and makes all of its parts work perfectly, as it grows and becomes strong because of love.
We are all going the same way. We are all journeying with God to the place he leads us. Just as on any journey, we cannot choose our travelling companions – they are all just people like us, trying to follow the calling of God.
And so we are called to,
Patiently put up with each other and love each other (v2)
I love that phrasing from the CEV, to patiently put up with each other…
I confess that on a recent holiday flight that left at 6am with lots of tired and fractious people, patience was wearing considerably thin (especially when a child screamed until it was sick before we’d even pushed back from the gate!), and I felt in no mood to put up with some of the people on that flight, but you are stuck in a metal tube together for the duration, so you have to find some way to co-exist.
Oh, if only everyone was perfect like me…
Yet, I do expect people to patiently put up with me and my demands and foibles.
And so the church is encouraged to live in peace. After all we are one body, one people going the same way. We all claim God as our Father, therefore we have a basis for common ground – more so than people who have chosen to holiday in one place, or are all trying to get to one city or down one motorway.
Christ has chosen us all, with all our different skills and gifts, and wants us to learn to serve one another, so we grow strong.
That is not all stamping our feet, demanding that our needs are met, or things are done the way we like it – it is working together to make the journey a good one, and helping one another along the way.
If you saw someone struggling with a large bag or a pushchair, would you help them?
If someone needed seats together, and you were alone at a table of four, would you give your seat up?
If someone was struggling to stand and their were no seats left, would you offer them yours?
Does this kind of behaviour carry forward into our life and journey of faith??
The final admonition to the Ephesians is,
Stop behaving like children!
Hmm… Do I have to hold my hands up to that? In honesty before God?
People who have chosen to follow the way of faith have so much in common, so let’s get on with loving one another.
Forgive me Lord,
when I am impatient,
focussing on my needs,
and not those of others.
Forgive me when I am childish,
and want it all to be about me,
and my feelings.
Help me to love
in your love;
to see the gifts of others,
and let them be used;