Welcome to Monday’s Podcast. My name is Tom Finnemore and I’m part of the team the STC team. This week I’ll pick up the baton from my friend and colleague Liam Brennan and we’ll continue our journey through the fantastic book of Ephesians.
Today we’re looking at Ephesians 4: 1-10 but today we’ll focus on verses 2-3
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
According to Forbes magazine over 70% of workers in the US state that it’s the people they work with that cause them the most workplace anxiety.
The thing is that we know relational stress isn’t just confined to the workplace. I have memories of living in shared houses with sometimes had relational tensions – I can still remember that feeling one had when putting the key into the door and saying a little prayer before walking into the house.
Conflict with people happens wherever people happen to be: church, work, family and communities – everywhere basically.
So, how do we live well with people? How do we live out our faith and build positive relationships with those around us?
Before we tackle that question – firstly a reflection on why it seems harder to do live well with people today: One reason I suspect it’s getting harder to ‘live well with people’ in the real world as nearly 40% of the global population relate to each other in a virtual world – social media – and with social media it’s discipling in the art of how to ‘unfollow’ ‘mute’ or even ‘unfriend’ – to eliminate the voices that we don’t really agree with.
The good news is that the Bible has something to say: In today’s passages – as we hit chapter four of the Paul’s letter to the Ephesians he reminds us ‘to live a life worthy of the calling you have received…’ Paul, states that the fundamental key values of all building good relationships are: humility & gentleness – in an Ephesian culture that worshipped strength and power – that was hugely challenging. In a harsh world – the gentle voice of kindness has so much significance. And for the apostle Paul– what we think of ourselves is really important – for him that’s humility. Which means not to think less of yourself but to think of yourself less. If we’re preoccupied with ourselves– either how bad we are (insecurity) or how much better we are (pride) – we’ll struggle to have genuine positive connections with people around us. We are to ‘bear one another in love’
I have told this story before but I worked with someone once who really got up my nose. He irritated the life out of me – to be honest he really offended me and I didn’t deal with it very well. I talked about him too much. Looking for anyone who might agree. One day a friend challenged me with this very verse: ‘bear one another with love’.
I found that so very challenging – still do!
It’s easy to surround ourselves with people who agree with us – it’s called an echo chamber but Paul’s vision of the church of Jesus is much deeper. It’s a united family of people who are completely and totally different from each other. There is no doubt the church has made a mess of this over the years but whether we like it or not Jesus calls us to love the church and to love each other.
What does it mean? It’s means that the church is made up of people from all nationalities – different backgrounds. Posh and poor side by side. Remain and Leave. Socialist & Tory. All united by Jesus Christ and his love for them and each other. And how are we to do it?
Interestingly Paul states in Ephesians 4 that we have unity – in Christ. But it’s our responsibility to keep the bond of peace. How? We practice what Jesus teaches in Matthew 18: 15-17. If someone hurts us or causes offence – we choose unity – so we choose to conflict. Conflict is a good thing. Christians can be very bad at doing this – for fear of hurting people. When we don’t deal well with things we generally withdraw from relationships. Metaphorically unfollow or ‘mute’ that person.
Start by praying blessing on that person. Praying for people is a sure way of keeping our hearts pure towards people. Is there someone you need to talk to today? Someone you need to make peace with?
Lord, this day, help me to bear with others, and in do doing, keep that precious bond of peace. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Ephesians 4:1-10
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:
‘When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.’
(What does ‘he ascended’ mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.)