“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. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6 New International Version
There are two things which cause me to panic, which provide me with my quota of irrational fears! At least one I find quite irrational, the other not so much. Which fear will appear irrational to you, of course, will depend on your perspective!
The first is the fear of drowning! Now this doesn’t make any sense to me. This is the one I consider irrational and completely out of character for me considering I have always enjoyed water sports. Swimming, water skiing, scuba diving, and sailing, just being near water whether the ocean, lakes, streams, or rivers puts me in my element. I truly find joy in being in water, except surfing, for me there is too much work for too little joy. That is just, of course, my humble opinion. Although, considering the investment, surfing is very likely the best bang for the buck!
When I have a nightmare I am able to remember, it often will be one in which I am drowning. I can’t make this fit into any conscious fear concerning water of which I am aware, however. There it is, and my own mind wrestles with the Why of this when it presents itself. I haven’t had one of the drowning nightmares in several years, at least not to my recollection. I’m not very good at recalling dreams, as matter of fact I believed for years I never dreamed because I wasn’t able to remember ever dreaming. Then I was informed that everyone dreams whether they recall dreaming or not. So there you have it. I dream and occasionally I have nightmares in which I am drowning!
My second fear, the one I find to be very rational, is the fear of prison. I have no doubt whatsoever that I could never survive in a prison atmosphere. I’m not that tough, that’s just a fact. It’s something I have known since grade school when I was in my first fight, one in which I had my clock cleaned.
My dad was very proud of his ability to fight, his prowess with his fists was one thing in which he found value. It was something my dad tried to teach me, how to be tough, to fight, to be able to stand up to anyone. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, because I realized it didn’t matter whether you won or lost, you still got pounded! And who wanted to be pounded into the ground? This ties into my understanding of prison of life, there will always be someone or ones wanting to beat you to a pulp! I’m just not into the whole pain thing, so prison definitely terrifies me. As far as I’m concerned, it is the stuff nightmares are made of!
As Paul continues in his letter to the believers at Ephesus he appeals to them to choose a worthy life, a life worth living. Now that seems as if it doesn’t need to be said, because who doesn’t want to live a life that is worth something, that reflects the truth as it is found in Jesus? And how would that Truth look if we needed to communicate it to those around us? Paul, as usual, leaves us without any doubt about what fulfills “… living a life worthy of the calling you have received.”
Over the last few years it has been interesting to note more and more the difference between God’s definition of how He wants us to live our lives, and a growing obsession with living a perfectly moral life. There is some disconnect between what Jesus informed His followers was important and what we have been educated to believe is required of us by God! It’s a lot less self focused than many are led to believe. If we were to listen to popular Christian rhetoric we would, as we do, believe it’s all about how good we are, how well we keep the rules—do we maintain the standards of Christian Morality; do we behave ourselves? I guess this isn’t such new message after all is it?
Jesus ran into the very same thing in dealing with the Pharisees and how they presented God and a life lived in relationship with Him. Have we really learned anything in the last 2000 years that would make us think we have become proficient in what Jesus was trying to communicate concerning God? Even Paul, as he writes to the Ephesians, reminds them of what the worthy life consists. “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.”
There isn’t one word concerning the effort to live without sin, or seeking to become sinless in any way. The focus is seeking the Fruit of the Spirit, not personal holiness! For a very good reason our holiness is guaranteed through the life, death, and resurrected life of Jesus. Jesus also promised us the Holy Spirit would lead us into all truth, including convicting us of sin, bringing us into confession, and making repentance the reality of our lives in Christ!
Jesus told His followers there was nothing in this world they need worry about! He reveals His ability to meet whatever are our needs in each day, including any changes needed in our behaviors. Grace leads us to know our calling is beyond what we think, or see, or feel. It is seeking to be available to God’s plans for those He sends as divine appointments. We place ourselves in His authority accepting what He determines is best in all circumstances. It’s not an easy attitude to embrace concidering we long to be the authority! Once more there is this amazing reality, God knows this about us and continues to seek us out with the transforming power that is His Grace.
If we stop to listen carefully, we will hear His voice calling to us, beckoning us to receive His love, His rest, His reality, His grace, and everything that makes life possible here and into eternity. All this based not on what we can do or have done, it is based on what God has done, is doing, and will continue to do as the One who chose to die rather than live without us!
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