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Walking in Light

Published: 2 months ago- 25 February 2024
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SERMON MANUSCRIPT

Big Idea: Church on purpose as a unified diversity.

Catching a bus to school. Always seemed like a rush. Mum’s last words to us as we flew out the door were, “Hurry up you’ll miss the bus!” With five school aged kids to get moving there was no time from anything more profound.

But one family we knew also caught a bus to school. Every morning their mum repeat the same phrase. It wasn’t hurry up you’ll miss the bus. She would say to them, just as they were getting ready to get on the bus … “Bruce; Mary-Ann, remember whose you are.”

Today, as you attend class, as you play at recess and lunch, as you sit on the bus to and from school, in all your actions, in all your interactions, remember whose you are.

A little more profound than hurry up you’ll miss the bus, … probably received with about as much attention.

What we read at the start of Ephesians 4 is Paul calling on his readers to remember whose you are.

Title of our Series: Walking the walk This is where the rubber hits the road. Where our soles hit the street.

Remember whose you are, in Christ.

What does it mean to remember whose we are?

By remembering our unity and diversity in Christ. We are a bag of mixed nuts.

We are called to… Guard our Unity (v1-6) “Remember whose you are” by guarding our precious unity.

Read v1

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,

Urge – Strong encouragement, please listen Walk worthily – consider carefully how you walk, as if on a narrow plank over a cold, deep river. Calling – summons (like a court order), position given, designated. Coming from a higher authority. Describes our salvation – called by God.

Live up to the position you have been assigned.

It’s not “fake it till you make it” Rather, reflect the nature of the God who called you.

Read v2

with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

We all love these values … in other people.

But in our dealings with others pursue unity. Reflect Christ’s dealings with us in our dealings with others. His grace, his love, the benefits of his sacrifice extended to the unworthy.

Remember whose you are. Dead in sin now made alive by God. New creations by the Word of God. God’s work, not ours. Those who have received much, who have been forgiven much love much.

Here’s our assignment. Here’s how we walk worthily. Read v3

eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Maintain sounds like making sure the lawn is mowed. Maintain the yard, clip the grass, do the edges, keep everything looking trim – get eager about lawn maintenance.

Not what Paul is saying. Guard the unity. Eagerly guard the unity. Guard something exceedingly precious.

The crown jewels. Thick glass, travelator keeps you moving on the way past, armed men in uniforms with serious faces.

We have something more precious than the crown jewels to guard, Paul says guard the unity of the Spirit. Guard the precious gift of God, not a unity we achieved through our own efforts. One given to us by God. We are not striving to create a unity, that has been given to us by God. We don’t unify because we are Presbyterian or from the Mitchelton area, or because we live in Queensland. Our unity stems from God’s gift to us – faith in Jesus, in-dwelling of the Spirit and being a part of Father’s family.

It’s not unity at any cost – it’s unity in Christ.

Read v4-6

There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Peace with one another is a gift from God. Given to you as determined by God. Won through the precious blood of Christ – hope, Lord, faith, baptism. By his sacrifice, he broke down the dividing walls of hostility – Father of all. Don’t let those walls of hostility get rebuilt.

We guard the unity of the Spirit through Look at v3b the bond of peace.

What is a bond of peace? In v1 Paul states again that he is a prisoner. The word he uses for prisoner and the word he uses for bond are from the same word group and convey the same meaning – bound, tied up, handcuffed to.

We are prisoners of peace. We are captives to harmonious relationships and freedom from disputes. Because we are in Christ.

It’s not peace at any cost. We are warned in the next section of false teaching, deception and cunning of people not to be trusted. In Titus Paul says after warning a divisive person put them out, and have nothing to do with them (3:10).

But here Paul is concerned that you and I understand the weight of our call to protect the unity Christ has won and gifted to us.

That we treat our relationships with each other, fellow followers of Jesus, with the greatest care.

That we ensure that we are the most humble, the most gentle, the most patient and loving person in the conversation, in the room.

That we eagerly guard our unity in Christ as something exceedingly precious.

Remember whose you are. Community = common unity.

We are also called to… Grow through our Diversity (v7-16) Unity with diversity.

I often marvel when I consider the natures and temperaments of our three kids. How did the same recipe produce such different results?

The reality of earthly families and it’s the reality of God’s family. Remember whose you are.

Read v7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

The grace mentioned here refers to something given beyond our gift of salvation. All this and more … the steak knives thrown into the salvation deal.

This additional favour, these extra gifts come from Christ. Notice that they are given according to the measure determined by Christ. And Paul wants us to understand that Christ is a generous King.

Read v8

Therefore it says,

When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,

and he gave gifts to men.”

This is a reference to Psalm 68:18. In the psalm, the victorious king receives the gifts. But here Paul says that King Jesus gives the gifts. His measure is generous… that word lavish comes to mind.

And just as his kingship is better than the kingship of Psalm 68 so is his victory.

Read v9-10

(In saying, He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.)

He came from glory, displayed that glory in his death and ascended to glory and universal reign.

The Roman Emperor Titus made himself a monument, a victory arch, depicting his sacking of Jerusalem in 70AD. It depicts his return to Rome carrying excessive plunder and dragging prisoners behind his chariots to the cheers of his people. If you are ever in Rome you can see the arch de triumph celebrating that victory march.

Paul’s image of Jesus is of his victory march. He came, he saw, he conquered… Everything in every way, not just a city but the whole of all creation.

So we have been given gifts beyond salvation by Jesus the all-conquering and ever-generous King.

But it’s even better. Read v7 … to each one of us.

The word bespoke has come back into fashion. Bespoke I love that word. Means custom made. Paul says Christ has given us bespoke gifts. Gifts tailored specifically for you by Christ.

To be used in the service of his Kingdom, his church. Remember whose you are. We are the people of Jesus the all-conquering, ever-generous and personal King. We have been called and gifted to build his church.

Read v11-12

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

Our response is not to wonder why we did not receive something else Our gifts are not for our renown and our glory, but so as we are equipped by sitting under the Word preached and taught, by having our lives aligned to the truth of the gospel, we can use the gifts we have been given by Jesus for the work of ministry for the building up of the body of Christ.

Remember whose you are.

The goal is maturity The measures of maturity, the KPI’s are (v13)

  • Unity in faith
  • Knowledge of Jesus
  • Increasing maturity in Christ.

So that we are not knocked off course

Read v14

14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

I have a picture of the Ninja courses on TV. The contestants try to navigate the obstacle course while everything is done to knock them off the path. A strong, fit, able body enables them to finish.

Challenges will come at us. They have in the past and they will in the future – guaranteed. How can we be ready and well-prepared?

Look at v15 Speaking the truth in love.

This is a potentially very abused verse.

Means being clear about Christ. Not being deceitful Not allowing divisions Not speaking in a way which puts you forward. It means speaking the truth of Christ to each other with the goal of maturity in Christ.

We could understand it as growing into our head.

Read v15-16

15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Growing into our head. Speaking the truth, the gospel to one another in love. Wanting to see each other mature and flourish. Sharing insights and understandings, experiences and encouragements. So that we grow in Christ – knowledge, faith, delight.

In some areas of Indonesia kids don’t go to school until they are able to put their arm over their head and touch their shoulder. Once they have grown into their head they are deemed mature enough for school

Grow into our head. Maturity in Christ.

Making every effort to preserve unity and to use our diverse gifts to move our local expression of God’s household, the church toward maturity, to raise the next generation who can do the same.

That’s living or walking in a manner worthy of our calling. That’s what it means to remember whose you are.

This is how our Saviour calls us to live.

And on that last day hear those words, well done good and faithful servant. Come into the place I have prepared for you.

In a month I am taking 6 weeks LSL. During my last LSL in 2013, as you may know I walked the Camino. 820km trek from a little French village at the base of the Pyrenees ranges up and over into Spain and then along the top to Santiago de Compostella.

The time I walked the Camino I was joined by 15 000 of my closest friends. And in a real sense we were friends. Warm greetings, rationing of resources, sharing tips on foot care, meals shared, secrets revealed.

By the virtue of being committed to the same goal, heading in the same direction, experiencing the same joys and the same struggles, moving through the same landscape, in the same weather, sleeping in the same dorms, eating at the same tables there was a very real sense of being brothers and sisters on the way.

People from a host of nations, speaking different languages, bringing different experiences and expectations working to relate to and help each other on the way.

Walking in a manner worthy.

That’s the bigger vision Paul is calling us to. That’s the call remember whose we are a unified diversity and in everything you encounter and engage in let that shape your walk, your relationships and responses so that as a church we are healthy, mature, long-range followers of Jesus.