1 Therefore, as a prisoner for the Lord, I encourage you to live as people worthy of the call you received from God. 2 Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, 3 and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together. 4 You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all.
This passage named central truths all Christians hold in common. These are the foundation for God’s new community—a community united, despite its members’ many differences, by their loyalty to the same God. Yet before, during and since the Reformation, Christians have disagreed (and often divided) for many reasons—from circumcision in New Testament times to the “right” form of baptism or communion in Reformation Europe to slavery in American history and ordaining women among Methodists in the middle of the 20th century. Today, some honest Christians on all sides of the issue argue that the United Methodist church must divide over the issue of same-sex marriage. But, as with all the other issues, we all serve the same God. Many Methodists believe we can disagree on this issue without needing to divide (click here for more information about the “Uniting Methodists” movement).
Loving Jesus, guide your people all over the earth. Guide me. As the world looks at your followers, help us to so conduct ourselves that words like “peace,” “unity,” “humility” and “love” will be the main descriptors that come to minds. Amen.
Through portraits of biblical characters and God’s followers of today, the Leawood stained glass window tells the story of God’s transforming love for all people in past, present and future generations. View the window together as a family, in person or click here to see it online. See how many people you can identify and whose stories you can share. Discuss how your life and your family’s life displays God’s love for all people. Gather some family pictures and with words, phrases, drawings, and magazine cutouts design your own artistic expression of God’s love. Find a special place in your home for your family’s creation. Consider a title for it such as “Our family shares God’s love with all!” Thank God for His love. Ask God to help you continue to tell the story of his amazing, faithful love.
* To read Wesley’s entire sermon on unity, click here.
This weekend, there’s an announcement in the bulletin about Resurrection’s Pathway to Ministry program. As a congregation, we are asked to prayerfully consider whether God might be calling us into ministry as a vocation or if we know someone we should encourage to consider a career in ministry. Pathways is a great way to explore what's involved in vocational ministry.
One of the goals of our church is to identify, encourage and support the next generation of ministry leaders. Although not all of us are called to ministry as a professional career, this passage in Ephesians is clear that as followers of Jesus, we have received a call from God and we are to live as people worthy of that call.
The Apostle Paul is reminding the Ephesians (and us) that we are united as followers of Christ's – “one Lord, one faith, one baptism and one God.” I’m not sure if is more comforting or disturbing that 2,000 years ago people who should be brothers and sisters in Christ were divided, just as we are today.
Paul’s letter goes beyond just pointing out the divisions. He gives us clear descriptions for how to conduct ourselves – humility, gentleness, patience and love. I don’t know about you, but these aren’t characteristics that I can simply check off. I am working on this every day. Here are some of the questions that I ask myself:
Living worthy of the call we have received from God is a daily challenge. It’s easy to let our human nature disagree, argue and take sides to divide us. John Wesley asked the question: "Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike? May we not be of one heart, though we are not of one opinion?”
My response is, that's how I would like to be. This is my prayer this week:
Gracious God, let me be worthy of your call. And though we may not think alike, let me love my neighbor as myself. Amen
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