From the prison cell, where he is cut off from the lifeblood of Christian fellowship, Paul speaks with clarity about how church is meant to be. Ephesians 4:1-16 should be read by those nominated to church office, should be responsively chanted at church council meetings, and should be prayerfully kept in mind as we enter our fall reorganizational and vision casting gatherings.
In 4:2, Paul begins by establishing a guideline for Christian behavior. We are not an NFL football team, nor are we Walmart. Out goal is not to win, grow, or make a profit. We are to be the church, which means in every instance to be humble with each other, loving, gentle, striving always for unity and peace. I know of youth group leaders and conflict management consultants who begin their gatherings with putting a set of behavior agreements up on the board. It may be useful to rework this scripture into a statement of behavior that we will hold ourselves to in church leadership.
The thing about behavior in the church, and behavior in our daily lives, is that they are related. People who need to learn better life skills, come to the church for hands on training. People who have applied Christian gentleness to their personal lives are to be promoted and given more respect in their church work. Instead of striving to meet our goals or metrics, we must be working together to create an environment where Christ’s lifestyle is experienced and learned.
The theme of the Ephesians 4 chapter is the gifts of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We are called by God, and our calling utilizes both situation and our inner strengths. Paul is called to be in prison and to exercise his gift as a writer. We may not always like our calling. We each must honor our own calling with humility. We must also encourage others to live up to their calling.
Whenever talking about the Holy Spirit, we must emphasize the truth, that the gifts exist for the upbuilding of the church. Our personal enjoyment and the status we gain when we do something well, is not the point. The point is the fellowship that we belong to. The point is the church, which Paul finds himself missing, as he writes from prison.