Your Calling is Calling
Text: Ephesians 4:1-16
Proper 13, B
1I therefore urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. That, as they say, is getting straight to the point. We Christians are called to the One true and Apostolic faith. And that means we have been called to walk, not as the world does, but as a Christian! To hope, not in what the world hopes, but in our Lord and Saviour. To care, not for ourselves, but to bear one another’s burdens and pains.
We have been called to maintain what is already ours by gift of the Holy Spirit. To cling to that God-given unity as if it were an injured little bird trying to flee. For the world is desperate to see that unity destroyed. Yet True unity is neither created nor destroyed by our actions, nor the actions of the world around us. But the point is, if we treasure this unity we will act accordingly. That means being called to a life where we are tied first and foremost to one another in the Holy Christian Church and to God above everything else. Our call is to suffer for/with one another. Or as Paul said it, to be humble, gentle, and patient. To bearing with one another in love and through all things!
But the sad reality after 17 months of covid is that this world, and even many in our own midst are more divided and mistrustful of one another than we have any right to be. “We are all in this together” and just two weeks to flatten the curve has turned into mandate after mandate, demands for compliance and the threat of a two tiered society where everyone must do what they are told, or they will lose the right to be part of society in any meaningful way.
People, and yes this means us Christians too, have become petty, scared, belligerent, impatient, and demanding of their neighbour. We have given free reign to our basest sins by wanting to be catered to and live consequence free ... disease free (or at least where everyone else must bear the consequences ... or the masks and isolation and vaccines ... so I don’t have to). People, you and me included have shown themselves in this time of fear to be not willing to make a decision, stand accountable, be responsible. To let someone else do all the hard work and take all the blame. We have lost our anchor. We have lost our mooring. We have lost our hope and faith and love, and now we are tossed about like everyone else, not knowing what to do, where to turn, who to trust. Not even knowing what is true or not anymore. Just knowing that we are scared and angry. We have fallen for the devil’s lie and the world’s pressures just like gullible children. 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. That is why Paul wrote this passage of Ephesians. There is a Truth of Compassion for just such a time as this. And we can be built up in Love and the Holy Spirit once again through work of our loving God.
4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Careful observers will notice that in this small section there are seven 1’s. Go ahead you can count them yourself. Seven is of course God’s number of completeness. His love for you is and always has been completely sufficient to see you through anything this life and world can throw at you. Notice too, the three persons of God and their individual works of love and compassion toward us as the very detail of that love and unity which will save us!
It is the Holy Spirit who forms our bond of unity in Hope to which He calls each of us through the preaching of the Gospel and the waters of Holy Baptism. It is the Holy Spirit who uses the Lord’s Supper to cement and strengthen that unity both here on earth and there in heaven. It is the Son who is Himself the heart of our faith and our hope, and our love for one and all. And everything that is His becomes ours in Holy Baptism for whether it was Jesus in the Jordan or you here at this font, there is only one Baptism for the remission of sins and the life everlasting. It is the body and the Blood of the Son that feeds and nourishes us for the struggle ahead. It is His table that gathers us together as welcome and beloved family. And finally, it is God the Father of all and over all who has been and always and forever will be in complete control of everything that happens (or doesn’t happen) and all for the sake of His beloved children.
And that is why He has given us this refuge and hope, this place of unity called the Holy Christian Church. 13until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped,
As we confess in the Large Catechism: I believe that there is upon earth a little holy group and congregation of pure saints, under one head, even Christ, called together by the Holy Ghost in one faith, one mind, and understanding, with manifold gifts, yet agreeing in love, without sects or schisms. I am also a part and member of the same, a sharer and joint owner of all the goods it possesses, brought to it and incorporated into it by the Holy Ghost by having heard and continuing to hear the Word of God ... Thus, until the last day, the Holy Ghost abides with the holy congregation or Christendom, by means of which He fetches us to Christ and which He employs to teach and preach to us the Word, whereby He works and promotes sanctification, causing [this community] daily to grow and become strong in the faith and its fruits which He produces. We further believe that in this Christian Church we have forgiveness of sin, which is wrought through the holy Sacraments and Absolution, moreover, through all manner of promises of the entire Gospel ... For although the grace of God is secured through Christ, and sanctification is wrought by the Holy Ghost through the Word of God in the unity of the Christian Church, yet on account of our flesh which we bear about with us we are never without sin. Everything, therefore, in the Christian Church is ordered to the end that we shall daily obtain there nothing but the forgiveness of sin through the Word and signs, to comfort and encourage our consciences as long as we live here. Thus, although we have sins, the [grace of the] Holy Ghost does not allow them to injure us, because we are in the Christian Church, where there is nothing but [continuous, uninterrupted] forgiveness of sin, both in that God forgives us, and in that we forgive, bear with, and help each other.1
And here is the answer to this present problem. To every worldly problem! The more this world tantrums like a spoiled child, the more it cowers in fear under the covers of mandates and lockdowns the more we need to follow our calling and hold to our salvation. Only sound teaching leads to maturity. And the heart of that doctrine is the love of God for us damnable sinners in Jesus Christ. Anything less than, or other than this truth is not loving.
And so, let us end once again in our confession from the Large Catechism by saying: Let this suffice concerning the Creed to lay a foundation for the simple, that they may not be burdened, so that, if they understand the substance of it, they themselves may afterwards strive to acquire more, and to refer to these parts whatever they learn in the Scriptures, and may ever grow and increase in richer understanding.2 In other words, after a year and a half of fears both reasonable and unreasonable, after a year and a half of frustration over constantly changing rules and goal posts, after a year and a half of being tossed about by every wave of anxiety and anger, let’s climb back in the boat and get back to it. Your calling is calling! And if you will truly believe and live in the love of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit then each part of this heavenly body (you and me) will be working properly, making the body grow so that we all together will be built up in love to the betterment of the world around us.
1Large Catechism Part II, 51-55
2Large Catechism Part II, 70