The Bible contains many stirring passages. Surely Paul’s plea to the Christians in Ephesus counts as one: “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” To live a life worthy of the calling you have received. What a sharp challenge and powerful attractor! The sharp challenge lies in the sad and painful reality that in so many ways we fall short of and even war against a life worthy of what God has given us. The powerful attractor lies in the high beauty of the life God has given us.
We have rebelled against God as if he were a tyrant. What could be further from truth? Yes, God rules. After all, he created everything, including you and me. Yet his rule, saturated with wisdom and love, leads to life flourishing with all truly good things. To our shame and sorrow, we fall so short. Still, God comes to us in Jesus and calls us to the true “high life”!
What then is this worthy life to which God calls us in Jesus? Here Paul characterizes it in terms of certain qualities: humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and peaceableness – qualities that are not very “natural” in our sinful world. These qualities stem from God’s transformation of us.
How can we live into this life? Paul points to concrete activities. They flow from specific ways God graces us with gifts. When – in humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and peaceableness – we practice God’s graces and gifts, we live a life worthy of Jesus.
What is the purpose of living into that worthiness? The aim of living a life worthy of the calling we have received is not self-fulfillment. So much of the world’s inspirational and motivational “wisdom” focuses on self. The aim of a life worthy of Jesus is to serve others. We put God’s graces and gifts into practice to help others grow in faith and unity. As a community of God’s people, we attain the whole measure of the fullness of Jesus.
When we embody the qualities and practices God gives us in Jesus, we begin to live a life worthy of the calling we have received. We find it is a life which looks like Jesus in character and action – a life devoted to serving others in the greatest faith, hope, and love possible. Could there be any worthier life to follow and attain?