21 September 2011

Reflection: Ephesians 4

Ephesians 4:1-6

 1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

A life worthy of the calling. 

As a missionary (or "volunteer for mission" or "mission partner" if you prefer) I have often reflected on what my calling is, and what living a 'worthy life might mean. Here in Paul's letter to the Ephesians he gives a few pointers on how to live a worthy life: it involves patience, gentleness, humility, love, and peace. Later, he encourages them to "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." (v. 32)

Christians are a reconciling people; we are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, and through God's love we are reconciled to each other. The "one hope" to which we are called is, for me, a hope of reconciliation. In order to bring about such reconciliation we must be patient, humble, loving, peaceful, and compassionate. In short, live a life worthy of the calling--a life like Christ's.

In my work here in Hong Kong I see people treating others as "less than"; I witness brutality and systems that support the exploitation of hard working people. I experience outrage and frustration when confronted head on with incivility, cruelty, and downright hatefulness. I have a hard time with patience, with gentleness, with peace. Yet, to meet these people and systems with more anger, with more hate, only furthers the distance to the reconciliation that I am called to participate in. So what is the reaction to those who do not recognize others as human beings, to systems that perpetuate exploitation?

Patience. Humility. Love. Peace. Compassion.

This is not to say that we should not assert basic human rights, or protest when systems threaten to take away even more from the people they are supposed to protect. When we act from a space of compassion we act through God's grace. When we act from a space of anger, fear, and hatred, we turn our backs on God's grace.

There is one body and one Spirit... one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Over all. Through all. In all.

I invite your comments, thoughts, reflections, questions, randomness. ;)

Grace and Peace,

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