Ephesians 4: 1-16
01Called. Its hard to miss that calling, despite all the other things we mean by it, involves being collected into a new social reality with one another, created in Christ. It’s not in some invisible church sort of way, its very concrete. Paul addresses Christian communities in particular places. They are the Christian churches who dwell in Ephesus and its hinterland. Their calling, collectively, must be lived worthily in these settings, with the neighbours and environments of those places. What challenges are there to living worthily as a collective witness in your particular city, or town or suburb or rural district? To what extent is that challenge symptomatic of the particular social and economic context you inhabit?
02There is one body…one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Our collectivity is one social reality made in Jesus Christ. But this is only possible because Christ has broken the powers which make our otherness and difference the basis of fear and alienation. The identity politics of difference are one way of construing the world; but, their assertion does not have the power to renew humanity, only describe it in particular way in time and place. What aspects of difference in your community and locality trouble you? What differences deserve to be better described? What differences need to be transcended and healed? How are you entering into this calling?
03The Christ who triumphs over the powers of fear and alienation gives gifts of reconciliation. There is a Maori saying, He Tangata, He Tangata, He Tangata. Of the People, for the People, by the People. Christ’s gift is to give gifts of people who will be agents in the forming of reconciling life. A new body is coming into existence in the midst of this world, and it is formed through God’s provision of gifted people. There is no abstract and ‘spiritual’ list of leadership gifts here. There are no gift containers called “ministry of teaching, or ministry of prophecy”. The gifts are people, expressing an aspect of Christ’s ministry through the richness of their specific personality, background and social setting.
04These gifts are not positions. A positional description of these roles tempts us to displace the giver. It claims back the control of what is happening. Nor can these gifts be orchestrated, another means of controlling what is happening. This is Christ’s work to give these people. How does this happen in your context? Who are the people who are your pastors, teachers, evangelists, prophets and apostles? Are they only the ones your church appointed?
Lord, in the environments we find ourselves, grant to us the people who we need to lead us more fully into your life in and for the world.
05We are a cast of players in the drama of Christ’s work of reconciling all things on heaven and on earth. We are given acting coaches, who help train us in the script and develop its expression. We are gifted choreographers who show us the moves. There is lighting and sound people who illuminate the stage so that the drama is seen and heard. And then we have the prompts who remind us of the lines we forget. These people equip us in collective performances of Christ’s drama of reconciliation and take it to the streets and marketplaces in the midst of a watching world.
Lord, today, where in our streets and marketplaces are you waiting for us to enact your reconciling life?