The church of Jesus Christ is defined in Scripture as “the household of faith” and “the family of God.” As such, the apostle Paul lays out for the community of faith foundational pillars that are to govern its behavior in the beginning verses of Ephesians 4.1-16. In the previous three chapters, he’s given the clearest theology of the church found anywhere in the Bible. Now, beginning in the first verse of this fourth chapter, he provides the activity or behavioral imperative that this theology places upon the church. “We have been bought with a price; we are not our own” anymore. We are to live as God’s people before a lost and dying world. These pillars, or values within the family of God, are to show themselves in our behavior.
What are these values that we are to demonstrate? The first is unity (v. 3). It is interesting to note that we cannot “create” unity; we can only break it. Unity is a part of the organic nature of God. His Spirit gives it and we are to keep it, according to the Scripture. Paul highlights our “oneness” as he elaborates on our unity. Seven items are mentioned: the Triune God: Father (Creator,) Son (Lord) and Spirit (empowerer), along with our past (baptism), our present (faith and family, the Body of Christ) and our future (hope). These unite us as one people. Note Paul does not say we are “equal” or the “same.” He emphasizes unity, not uniformity. His focus is on our interdependence. I need you and you need me. We are all integrally connected within the family of God. As such, Paul emphasizes our first priority is to its unity.
Second, he points out its diversity (v. 7). Previously he focused on our collective identity (unity); not he highlights our individuality (to each one of us, he says). Every single one of us in the family of God have been given a gift (s) for use in the Body. God has sovereignly chosen these gifts and has given them freely to us. This, Paul says, is guaranteed by the prophecy of the Psalmist (Ps 68) which indicated Jesus came to this earth, then ascended back to heaven “giving gifts to men.” These gifts are to be used, not ignored or neglected. We are to discover and be equipped to use them. Church leaders are responsible to make sure the Body is prepared to do “works of service” as intended by God. Without such diversity, our service would be “lopsided” and some services or people would be missed in the process. We need to value such diversity (rather than seeking to clone or wish that others will be like “us.), because such diversity reflects the depth of God’s grace and wonder.
Third, the outcome intended is maturity for us all (v. 13). We are to grow through love (mentioned three times in this section of Scripture) and responsibility (as each one does his part). Only God’s kind of love will be selfless and persuade us to act as we should. When we reach relational (unity in the faith), intellectual (in the knowledge) , and emotional (in the love) maturity of Christ, we will attain to the full measure of Him, our Lord. That means we will not settle for comparing ourselves in our growth and development to our spouse, our parents, our neighbor, our pastor or any other believer. Rather, we will measure our maturity as we compare to Christ alone. When we attain this level, we will no longer be anxious with doubts when assailed by the waves of life; rather, we will be a witness to the people of God and to the world of what God alone can do in and through us.
So, walk worthy of the calling you have received (v. 1)! Your live should–and must–carry weight and influence with others around you so that they too will see Jesus in and through you. When that happens we will be portraying the kind of values the family of God needs to live out before the world.