In Ephesians 4:1-16, the apostle Paul provides a perfect picture of what it means to be a Christian: walk – no! RUN – on the road God has called us to travel. No one sitting on their hands idle. No one strolling down a path that leads to nowhere. No one declaring at the top of their lungs, “I’ll do it my way!” No fits and starts; no frantic, inconsistent bursts of activity … but all of us, as part of a Christian community, traveling together in the same direction, sharing:
- the same faith,
- the same hope,
- the same baptism,
- the same God and Father of all.
In essence, in this passage, Paul instructs those who call themselves Christians to act like grown ups: pouring themselves out for each other in acts of love, accepting one another’s differences, mending any disagreements, serving one another with humility and discipline.
It’s actually a little offensive, especially as adults, to be told that we need to grow up but when we look closely at our actions or talk to those who have left the church disillusioned, it becomes a pertinent word for us when …
… we come to the table to share in the body and blood of Christ but are actually not speaking to each other because of deep-seated mistrust and resentment …
… we are so moved by our Sunday worship that we sign up for a ministry or a course we feel that God is calling us to but within a week have lost all passion and energy and will to show up and let God surprise us …
… we can’t wait to make it to a leadership position because then we no longer have to be a follower but have the power to pursue our own picture, to advance our own agenda …
… we pick and choose Scripture in a way that makes us feel good about ourselves and others downright terrible about themselves …
… we make others pay for the privilege of worshipping with us, praying with us, fellowshipping with us or learning with us, rather than tithing consistently so that the church can do whatever, whenever she hears the Spirit prompting …
… we show up only if we’re interested in who’s preaching or what they have to say or, simply, have an errand-free morning for a change …
… we claim to love the uniqueness, the newness of a church community then set out to make it exactly the same as the one from which we came …
… we just can’t seem to show up on time – not for one another; not even for God …
… we stop showing up at all because we no longer “feel” the worship or know the songs or like the way that things are being done ….
Paul reminds us that in many ways we are still infants, small children, spiritual babes who God wants to grow up knowing the whole truth and telling it in love.
And the truth begins with:
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me,
a sinner, a fake, a fraud,
a babe in the woods who has failed to stay on your straight paths
but strolled off on my own meandering way.
Forgive me for
the poverty of my faith,
the withholding of my love,
the enormity of my ego,
the strife in my relationships,
the lack of discipline in my discipleship
and humility in my leadership.
Show me how I cling to my childish ways;
strip me of my preconceived ideas and grand notions;
put me into deep waters where I will learn to depend on your strength and your grace;
comfort and sustain me as I experience the pain of growth
and the inconvenience of having to change direction
and learning to walk at a new pace.
In the name of the One who descended to the dead
and ascended into heaven,
may I be free from the things that hold me back –
the hurts, the grudges, the time pressures, the secret ambitions –
that I may move rhythmically and easily
with you and with all your beloved:
a fully mature adult;
fully alive, in and through, and with Christ.
Me, me, me is the language of infants whose world revolves around their needs; the talk of toddlers throwing tantrums in the middle of the floor when they cannot get their way.
“We” is the language that permeates us with Oneness; that connects us with the triune nature of God; that allows our differences to become gifts to one another and our disagreements to be dealt with humbly and gently, even as we stay together through the difficulty and discomfort of conflict or change.
May there be more of “we” and less of “me” as we surrender to Christ as the source of everything we do and the head who keeps us in step with each other.