A Word from Pastor Stephen – April 30, 2020
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 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.” (Ephesians 4:1-3 NIV)
Following Jesus is not simply a check list of what to believe and how to act. No one ever surrendered their life to a list of do’s and don’ts. All that Jesus tells us to do is to follow him. Following Jesus is about transformation. When you encounter Jesus and that wonderful and amazing grace washes over you, there should be a before and after moment in your life. Richard Rohr, the Franciscan priest and author wrote, “We worshipped Jesus instead of following him on his same path. We made Jesus into a mere religion instead of a journey towards union with God. This shift made us into a religion of ‘belonging and believing’ instead of a religion of transformation.”
Paul told the Corinthian church, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17) When we have been washed clean and made into a new creation, we can follow Jesus with a new heart and a new life. Paul urges us “to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” If we have been marked as a disciple of Jesus, then how we move into the world and interact with others is important.
Paul even tells us what we should look like to the world. Are you completely humble? Are you patient? Do you bear others burdens with love? Do you try to maintain unity with fellow believers? Paul is setting the bar very high. So if Paul can walk in a manner worthy of his calling even when he is in prison, then maybe you can do it when you return to school, go back to work, sit with your family, go to the grocery store, eventually eat in a restaurant, …even in church.
In a world that seems to have gone crazy, we as followers of Jesus need to remember that we are tied together in love. The world out there desperately needs us to demonstrate our love and commitment to Christ and to each other. It is our duty and privilege to carry out into the world an extra measure of maturity, grace, gentleness, patience, and forgiveness. As the church, our witness to the world should be a community united in love. Go be that church! Amen.