Today’s Reading: Ephesians
In Ephesians 4:1 Paul urges us Christians “to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” This does not mean that we should try to deserve our place in God’s favour. It means that we should recognize how much our place in God’s favour deserves from us. The focus is not on our worth but on the worth of our calling. If we go back to chapters 1 through 3, we can catch a glimpse of the calling Paul means.
- 1:4, God chose us for himself before the world was created.
- 1:5, he predestined us to be his children—and that means heirs of all our Father owns!
- 1:7, he sent Christ to atone for all our trespasses.
- 1:13, he sealed us with his Holy Spirit to preserve us forever.
- 2:7, he promises to spend an eternity increasing our joy in the immeasurable riches of his grace.
- 3:10, he has given us the mission as a church to display his wisdom, even to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places.
In other words, the privilege and purpose of our Christian calling is greater than any other privilege and purpose.
So why do you think Paul starts this section by calling attention to the fact that he is a prisoner? “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.” I think the answer is that he wants them to feel the truth that it is worth it. Walking worthy of our Christian calling (the calling to glory and everlasting joy with Christ) is worth being imprisoned for and worth dying for. Writing from prison means that what he writes is dangerous. It is not a nice, middle-class way to solve your problems and be comfortable. Real, radical Christianity is risky and unpopular and dangerous. Jesus had given many warnings that following him was safe in the long run and dangerous in the short run. For example, he said,
They will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for my name’s sake. It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. (Luke 21:12–13)
There is something very powerful about a testimony from prison where your life is at stake. That’s the power Paul wants to put behind these words. The power we feel when we hear Richard Wurmbrand tell us of Tahir Iqbal, a Muslim convert to Christianity who was imprisoned December 7, 1990, in Lahore, Pakistan, and died in prison July 19 this year. He was a paraplegic and confined to a wheelchair. When asked about the possibility of being hanged he said, “I will kiss my rope, but will never deny my faith.”
That kind of talk from prison is like a stiff, wakening winter wind in the face of our drowsy, television-soaked, self-pitying kind of Christianity. It wakes us up and makes us dress spiritually for the winter battles. That’s what Paul wants to happen when we read his testimony from prison.