Living Up to Our Upbringing
I remember Dad giving me “the speech” right before I went off the college. I guess most young men get some version of this speech from their father… or mother… or uncle or some authority figure. It is the speech that says, “Remember who you are.” Come to think of it, Dad may have used those very words in his speech, but he said something about “not bringinging dishonor on your family.” I remember thinking, “Dad, I going off to Freed-Hardeman, not going off in the merchant marine or something; there’s not but so much trouble to get into in Henderson, TN. They close the town and roll up the sidewalks at 8:00 each night.” That wasn’t true… it was at 7:30! But when kids leave home and go off on their own, they need to be reminded that they need to live up to their upbringing.
Paul gives us his version of the speech in our reading for today from Ephesians 4. Up to this point in the book, he has been pointing to what God has done in us and how God has called us. Now he tells us to live upto our upbringing— “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life (literally “walk”) worthy of the calling you have received.” (Eph 4:1). In the first part of the book, he lays the theological groundwork of all that God has done—our calling. Now he gets to the practical side—live up to your calling. It’s not enough to learn the lessons; we have to live the lessons. And Paul is going to get very practical in his practical application—
- Don’t live like the Gentiles in sensuality (4:17).
- Don’t lie to each other (4:25).
- Control your temper and resolve your issues before they lead to resentment (4:26).
- Don’t steal from each other, but work to proved for your needs and to share with others. (4:27-28).
All very practical applications of living worthy of our calling… living up to our upbrining. But it is interesting, isn’t it, where Paul choose to begin. His first application of living up to out upbringing is unity.
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. (Eph 4:2-3)
In some ways, the commands that follow (lying, stealing, anger issues, etc.) are component parts of this first application of living together in unity. We just get along better if we don't steal from others or blow up in anger! If we live up to our upbringing and walk worthy of our calling, then we’ll find a way to live together in peace and unity. The Holy spirit creates that unity; we don;t have a vote on whether or not we are one. We just have to decie that we are going to LIVE as one. All of the things of God are one— “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.” (4:4-5). If God’s things are one, then God’s people must live as one. If we live up to our upbrings, we will live as one.
Make it so.