Your Calling Is Our Calling

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.

Ephesians 4:1

When we read Ephesians 4:1, we hear this verse as if it speaks to us personally. We feel personally, individually urged to live a life worthy of the calling we have each received from the Lord. This is a sensible response to Paul's exhortation. It does speak to each one of us in a direct, intimate way. Ephesians 4:1 urges you and it urges me to live worthy of the calling God has given to us as discrete believers in Jesus Christ.

But this is not the whole story. If you were to read Ephesians 4:1 in the original Greek, you'd notice that it says something like this: "As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you all to walk worthy of the calling with which you all have been called." (Of course, those of us who live in Texas would hear this as "y'all" or "all y'all." East Coasters might prefer "youse guys.") The Greek words behind "you" and "you have been called" are both plural. They speak not just to an individual believer, but to a group of believers.

Of course it's possible that the plural in Ephesians 4:1 means "you all considered individually." When teacher says to her class, "You must wash your hands before lunch," she is envisioning individual students washing their own hands. Paul could, therefore, be using the plural in Ephesians 4:1 as a way of speaking to the collection of individuals who would read his letter. But, the context of this passage (see 4:7, in particular) points in another direction. Without denying the fact that we each have a divine calling, Ephesians 4:1 also speaks to the church as a unity. Together, we share in a common calling.

What is this calling? Most importantly, it is the calling to belong to God and to participate in his creative, redemptive, and restorative work in the world. We receive and respond to this calling, not just as individuals, but also and essentially as members of Christ's body, as members necessarily connected to and dependent on each other.

We'll see the implications of this truth in the next few verses of Ephesians, to which we will turn tomorrow. For now, let me encourage you to consider the following questions.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you ever before thought that your calling is also our calling? Why or why not? What difference might it make in your thinking and behavior if you began to see your divine calling as a part of our divine calling?

PRAYER: Gracious God, once again, thank you for calling me to yourself and into your work. Today, though, I thank you for calling, not just me as an individual, but me as a member of your body, your church. Thank you that my calling is an aspect of that calling I share with all other believers.

Help me to understand this truth and to see its implications for how I live today. May my response to my calling be truly a part of our response to our calling. Amen.

Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.