Read Ephesians 4:1-4, 26-5:2
We aren’t saved by anything we do, but once God has saved us, He calls us to live according to His commands. Some people find this restricting. But if you love someone, you will naturally want to please him (or her) and make him happy. God calls us to follow His statutes so that we can become more like Jesus, glorify Him, and ultimately do what’s best for us too. But who are we in Christ, what are we being called to, and how do we act as God’s children should?
So how do we live as children of God? Anyone raised in church could probably give a whole list of things Christians are “supposed to do” and “not supposed to do.” Then there’s the mistakenly allusive will of God. We see people all the time go to great lengths to try to determine God’s answer on a matter. But does this really make up the way Christians are called to live? I think not. A person can follow every rule in the U.S. Constitution and still have no relationship with James Madison. We’ve seen people fast and mourn (the whole modern day sackcloth and ashes thing) and end up no closer to knowing God’s will than before. Though following His rules and seeking His will are two things we should do, we go about them wrong because we don’t understand the deeper purpose.
Everything branches out from our relationship with God, which is the most important part. God doesn’t want a perfect person–He wants you! The truth is in Christ we are new creations. Since Jesus died on the cross and defeated sin and death, we can be who God has made us to be. As Charles Stanley phrased it, “Change is possible because sin’s power over us has been permanently broken.” Even more so, Jesus changed us when He saved us. So we are already new creations (for more see New Creations).
We are called to live lives “worthy of the calling you have received.” (Eph. 4:1) The gospel is the most amazing message of all time, and it is 100% true. So whatever you have learned from the gospel, live it out. Live sure of the hope you have in God since God is Who He says He is. Live in the peace that God sees your circumstances and knows everything about you, since God is all-knowing. Live sure that you are forgiven, accepted, and deeply loved because God has told you so. Live out the truth of God.
Our Father gives us a clear description of how we are to act as His children, and He has told us He will help us every step of the way. We are first of all called to turn away from sin. We are also called to be “completely humble and gentle” (4:2). We should be characterized as forgiving, compassionate, patient and gentle, just like our Father. “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (5:1) We should imitate Jesus. This is where the rubber hits the road for a lot of us. We’re expert rule followers, completely capable of living for God and following His “big” commands (sarcasm): tithe, go to church on Sunday, thou shall not murder, don’t have those little wooden or metal idol-things, carry that Bible around, don’t lash out at that annoying coworker. But even if we follow all this, we can miss the truly big picture: love. We aren’t just called to a do’s and don’ts list: we’re called to a whole new attitude. Our entire outlook on life has to change to match God’s. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (4:32)
When we look up from what we’re doing, we realize our Father is far more loving and gracious and merciful and forgiving and compassionate and patient and gentle than we are. God doesn’t want us to “work” for Him. If He wanted money, He wouldn’t tell you. If He needed someone to be His perfect servant, He’d rely on His angels. He wants us to show His love to the people around us. Love should be the driving force behind everything we do, love for God and love for others. We are called to imitate Jesus. He didn’t necessarily carry a Bible around in His hand, but He held the Word of God in His heart. He lived a spotless life spiritually but a messy life physically. The Pharisees persecuted Him because He wasn’t “orthodox.” He was with a group of men made up of what we could relate to car-mechanics, IRS agents, and zealous college guys. He travelled from place to place telling people about God’s love for them without worrying about His own needs. He sacrificed His time, resources, abilities and His life to help others know God. That is the kind of life we are called to. Not all of us are foreign missionaries, pastors, preachers, church workers, singers, writers, door-to-door evangelists, or college ministers. But we are all called to that same sacrifice for love.
Lord, thank You that we are included in Your great plan to save the world! Thank You for calling us to love like You! This is a beautiful, indescribable miracle! Please help us all today and everyday to live out both the Greatest and Second Greatest Commandments and the Great Commission. Please show us how to love like You! We openly confess that we need Your help. And we also rest assured that You will help us! Let our lives glorify and honor You, Father! Let us be Your witnesses. In Jesus’ great, loving Name i pray, Hallelujah! Amen!