Ephesians 4:1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
For someone with a good background in the faith, this one little verse takes care of just about everything! Paul starts by stating his credentials. His captivity illustrated the fact that he indeed walked out his faith, regardless of the consequences. After that reminder, he reminds his readers that they too are called by God. We tend to equate calling with occupation, and indeed, “vocation” is simply the Latin for “calling.” However, our calling from God starts with what we are, before going on to what we do. We are called, most fundamentally, to be children of God. (John 1:12) Everything else comes from that. Parents may indeed play favorites with their children, but God is big enough to love us all equally. However, we don’t respond equally. That’s where all of Paul’s “practical advice” comes in. When we are focused on living as children of God, all sorts of things become very simple, and gray areas disappear. We tend to agonize over all sorts of decisions, when if our focus is on being a child of God, our course of action seems much clearer. This starts with our interactions with those around us, as Paul goes on to say in the next two verses. Of course the ultimate example of a child of God is Jesus, the Son of God. He indeed told His disciples, and by extension us, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” (John 20:21) We are not called to die for the sins of mankind, but we are called to live as demonstrations of who and what God is. Paul spoke in terms of Christ being formed in us, (Galatians 4:19) and many times spoke of how we are being transformed into His likeness. (Romans 12:2, 2 Corinthians 3:18 etc.) What he is telling us in this verse is that we should live as who we are becoming, instead of as who we once were.
Given my background, some people might think that last sentence wouldn’t apply much to me. Raised in a missionary home, I don’t have a “great, sordid past” to overcome. However, I have walked in blind pride, and that is just as bad. Like Paul, I need to forget what is behind and press forward to what is ahead. (Philippians 3:13) I have made more mistakes in my life than I could count, and indeed more than I am aware of, but I am not to be bound by that. Rather, I am to focus on the reality that God has called me to Himself and has sent me out as His agent, so that through me others may know of His love and grace for them. I happen to be a missionary pastor, but I think that description of my calling applies to every child of God.
Father, thank You for calling me to Yourself. For that matter, thank You for creating me in the first place! May I indeed fulfill all of Your purposes for me, so that because of me many may repent and believe, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!