Lead a life worthy of your calling … [a life marked by] humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; from Ephesians 4:1-3.
Our church has spent several weeks in Ephesians during the Sunday morning sermons. We’re finally to chapter 4. It encourages me to be able to say, from my vantage point as senior pastor, that I have seen our church family embody the life depicted in these opening verses of the 4th chapter.
“A life worthy of your calling;” pastors and professional clergy are thought to be called by God like prophets of old. But, I have seen lay members in our church family live out just as strongly this sense that God has given them purpose in their lives and they are as compelled as any pastor to live into that purpose.
“Marked by humility and gentleness;” our church family includes individuals who have accomplished much. They are the leaders of their organizations, the groundbreaking researchers, and those with oversight in power positions in our community. In our church family, these distinguished people are called by their first names, not “Dr. this,” or “Mr. that.” We downplay titles because we are a family, brothers and sisters in Christ. Yes, church is an institution and titles can be appropriate. But the lasting image of church, exceeding the societal function, is the household of God. When I am at home, it’s comfortable and I’m on a first name basis with my family. In our church family, the one in the kitchen wearing an apron and washing dishes is a department head at the university. The one hunched over spreading mulch on the workday is the head of her department at work. This wasn’t done by design. We don’t try to “humble people.” They have embraced the call of Christ. What’s happening in what I am describing is the result of people following God with humility and gentleness.
“Bearing with one another in love:” we’ve had conflict, like most churches do at some point. Some have left our church family in unhappy departures. We’re not perfect. But the ones who are here do their best to overcome differences that arise in loving ways. Many of members are not that crazy about everything I say, but they love me as much as they love each other. They “bear with” me because they’re trying to follow the Spirit’s lead. I’ve seen people in our church overcome differences and become true friends – disciples who help each other grow in faith.
This has sound like a brag-session; look how great our church is. I did not intend that. I thought, as a supplement to the Ephesians sermon series, I’d zero on some details in Ephesians 4 where we might focus our energy. But don’t pastors do too much of that sometimes? We must be humbler and gentler. We have to work on “bearing with one another in love.” Yes, we must and we have to, but sometimes pastors overdo it with the “must’s” and the “have-to’s.” As I sat down to write, I wanted to express how grateful I am for that ways I see our church already living into the vision Paul casts in Ephesians 4.
October was “pastor appreciation month,” and the church showed great love to me. I feel it. November is the month of Thanksgiving. I am very thankful that the HillSong Church family is a body of believers who believe that to be Christian is to be a disciple of Jesus. And this church lives out that discipleship. I am glad I get to be part of it.