On Sunday morning, JP walked us through Ephesians 4, showing us Paul's guidance for how to walk with God. Today, I just want to focus on the very beginning of the chapter:
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3, NKJV)
We are living in uncertain times, and it is very interesting to watch how people respond. Just a quick browse on social media or the news can give us a snapshot of how people around us are doing. Some are quite fearful, and it seems that they're less afraid of the coronavirus that is spreading throughout the world, than the idea of running out of something essential as they practice social distancing. Some show outrage, and they're outraged at anything they can find to be outraged about - how the government is handling things, how the fearful are handling things, or how their kids are behaving while they're trying to work from home. Some are indifferent, going about their lives as though nothing has changed.
Last week, I discussed our calling to turn our backs on fear, in favor of the faith that sustains us. In addition to fearlessness, we are called to unity. On Sunday, we talked about unity within the church, and JP asked the question, "In the midst of covid-19. How do you make every effort to walk together?" It's an excellent question, and it's one that I encourage you to consider.
Today, though, let's take a moment to consider unity in a broader sense. How do we maintain a stance of peace with the people in our lives who are handling this crisis in fearful, outraged, or indifferent ways? Now, take a moment to consider unity in a narrower sense. How do we maintain a stance of peace with the people who live with us, when we're all thrown together 24/7 in ways we didn't plan for and aren't used to?
Paul outlines a few traits to help us understand how to behave - lowliness, gentleness, longsuffering, and bearing with one another. Consider the NIV translation of Ephesians 4:2-3, "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (emphasis added).
Notice that Paul doesn't sugar-coat the call to unity. He doesn't say, "with great ease, keep the unity...." Unity requires effort. When we see people in our society hoarding groceries or ranting about the government, it's hard to keep from lecturing them or complaining about them. When your spouse or child interrupts you for the hundredth time while you're trying to sort out your new teleworking situation, it's hard to keep from snapping at them to leave you alone.
Times like these are our greatest opportunity to be the example of Jesus to our world. Paul calls us to a higher walk - the walk of humility, gentleness, and patience. How is it possible for us to exemplify this stance, when our world is turned upside down? It's hidden in verse 3; the Spirit is the key.
Take a moment to pray for the Spirit to work in your heart, to give you supernatural humility, gentleness, and patience during this season.