Scripture: Ephesians 4:1-6
Sometimes, sisters and brothers, the challenges and complications of life can be so overwhelming that they can cause us to want to give up on living.
Earlier this summer, the challenges and complications of life caused fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain to give up on living.
The complications and challenges of life don’t just effect high profile individuals but they have had a rising effect on teens and young adults. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, the rate of suicide among teen [and young adult] girls is the highest it has been in 40 years and the rate among boys has increased by 30%.
While these recent incidents and statistics have raised awareness of the mental health issues surrounding these challenges and complications, they have been a part of our reality for some time. And the truth of the matter, sisters and brothers, is that all of us are closer to the edge than we may think or realize.
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five brought it to our attention in the 1980s with the lyrics, “Don’t push me, cause I’m close to the edge,
I’m trying not to lose my head. It’s like a jungle sometimes, it makes me wonder how I keep from going under.”
In a sense, that’s what Paul was writing to the saints at Ephesus about in this text. In his exhortation to them, he shares with them a life worth living.
“I say to you live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (v.1). They had been called by the Lord Jesus Christ through the ministry of Paul and had accepted the grace of God in the saving work of Jesus Christ on Calvary. Paul’s exhortation to them is to live a life worthy of their calling.
They had been called for much more than mere individual existence. They had been called for abundant living in the unity of community. In speaking to the Pharisees in John 10:10 Jesus said that he came that the people might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10).
To live a life worthy of their calling, the apostle exhorts them to be humble. In the first part of Verse 2, he tells them to be completely humble and gentle (v.2a). The humility to which Paul exhorts them manifests itself in servanthood and obedience.
Then Paul tells them that if they are to live lives worthy of their calling, they are to be patient, bearing with one another (v.2b). Bearing with one another means to give each other the benefit of the doubt, not to jump to conclusions about one another, presume that someone is innocent before guilty and presume that someone is trying to do you good and not harm.
For Paul patience is the very fabric of their abundant living in the unity of community. Perhaps that’s why he says to them to make “every effort” to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (v.3).
Paul’s final and ultimate exhortation to the saints at Ephesus to live lives worthy of their calling is that they have hope. They had been called to one hope.
As believers, they had hope and their hope was in the Lord who had called them. Their hope was in the one faith that saved them (Romans 10:9-10). Their hope was in the one baptism of the Spirit that sealed them (Ephesians 1:13). Their hope was in the one God that was over all, and in all, and through all.
Sisters and brothers, a life worth living is a life that has something to live for. People who give up on living have things to live with, but nothing to live for. No matter how challenging or complicated life gets, you got something to live for.
Hope in Jesus is something to live for. With hope in Jesus, things will get better. With hope in Jesus, change will come. With hope in Jesus, there is a bright side somewhere. With hope in Jesus, “sorry” might last for a night, but “joy” will come in the morning.
The 18th Century preacher and hymn writer Edward Mote said it far better than I can when he wrote these words:
“My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus blood and righteousness.
“I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus name.
“On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.”
The Rev. Dr. Kelvin T. Calloway is the pastor of Bethel AME Church, 7900 S. Western Ave., in Los Angeles.