I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6
What is the call to which you have been called? The author of this letter to the church in Ephesus is very clear that there is a call, a response called for from the ones who are gathered together as the church, trying to follow the ways of Jesus. We don’t very often use the word “call” or “our calling”, except maybe for those of us who went through seminary and the ordination process who needed to almost constantly being asked to define our “call.”
Yet the letter-writer (perhaps Paul or a student of Paul’s), a prisoner, on trial for how he is living out his call, is begging the church to live out their calling. “You are in this together.” “You are given these gifts as a church.” “You have a power to be and do something together.” “You have a calling to live into that power, to live out that Spirit, to nurture, mend, maintain, grow, and be united in this call.”
The call, according to the letter-writer, has a lot to do with unity, to breaking down any walls of hostility, to developing a spirit of oneness. It is hard for the 21st century Christians, called together as a church, in Northbrook, in the institution of the United Methodists, to think about living in that kind of unity. We are all called to differing vocations. We are caught up in our daily living, working, and being. We have so many different pulls on our lives. We are so different from one another. The United Methodists are not united. There is not enough money, not enough people. We cannot conjure up a deeper commitment. We are already over-committed in our lives. We are able to find church in other places.
These are the kinds of things that keep me up at night. I sometimes feel like a “prisoner in the Lord,” crying out in the dark, for something, someone, to break through and show us the way. Please, bear with one another, bear with me. Call up all of the patience, humility and gentleness that you have. God is yet in us, among us, above and through all of us. People around us are searching for the spirit of community, of being one together. I’ve heard it. I’ve seen it. Don’t give up. God is with us.