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Walk In Love

Updated: Feb 27








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Target: The love of Christ calls us to walk in a new life



As we conclude our series, Unconditional Love, I would like to consider Paul's words to the Ephesians. I pray that over the last few weeks, we have gained a greater understanding of God's love and how his love should direct our steps, attitudes, and actions. Paul, in Ephesians, encourages the church to follow God's example and walk in the way of love as his dearly loved children. Paul envisions Christians completely and wholly transformed through the gospel of Christ, those who take on a new identity, an identity in Christ shaped by love. Through his words, we discover how the love of Christ calls us to a new life. 


Ephesians: Structure


Ephesians is one of the New Testament letters I return to time and time again. It's a short but powerful letter in which Paul talks about our identity in Christ. There is so much layered in the text that I have found inspiring through the years. If it has been a while since you read this letter, I encourage you to do so. From beginning to end, it would take you about 20 minutes. Grab your Bible, a cup of tea or coffee, find a comfortable chair, and discover the depths of Ephesians. 


Paul planted the church in Ephesus during his third missionary journey. We can read some of the background in the Book of Acts (ref. Acts 18:19-2119:1-10). He spent a significant amount of time, about two years, with the church as he shared the good news of Christ. 


Like many New Testament letters, Ephesians has a clear pivotial movement. In the first half of the letter, Ephesians 1-3, Paul shares God's work of reconciliation in Christ. Through this movement, Paul shares the story of the gospel culminating in Jesus, who forms his church as one multiethnic body. 


The hinge or second major movement begins in Ephesians 4:1. This movement is easier to see in the New American Standard Bible:


Ephesians 4:1 (NASB95)

"Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called" (emphasis added)


You can see the shift with the word "Therefore." In this movement, Paul talks about how the gospel forms our identity. It shapes our lives, our families, and our communities. 


A New Identity


Paul envisions a new identity for those in Christ. Through the Lord, Paul was called to be an apostle to the Gentiles (Rom. 11:13). In his journies and travels, he spent much time proclaiming Christ throughout Asia Minor. In Ephesus, it seems he is speaking primarily to a Gentile community. The word Gentile is a word that describes any people or nations who are non-Jewish. Growing up and living in the United States, as a non-Jewish person, this word would describe me. As such, my culture has shaped part of my identity and who I am. For Paul, he understands how our identity shapes our thoughts and behaviors. 


This past week, Intuitive Machines lander Odysseus touched down on the moon's surface. An article posted on NASA's website notes the following:


"For the first time in more than 50 years, new NASA science instruments and technology demonstrations are operating on the Moon following the first successful delivery of the agency's CLPS (Commercial Lunar Payload Services) initiative." 1

Thinking back to the first missions of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo, the vision and call from President John F. Kennedy inspired a nation to land on the moon and safely return. His call to land on the moon formed an identity. This identity fuelled the success of the moon landing. 


Paul desires for Christians to have their identity formed in Christ. Our behaviors and thoughts, who we are, is to be formed by our new identity in Christ. 


Backing up to Chapter 2, notice how Paul frames our new identity. In Chapter 2, Paul talks about how both Jews and Gentiles come together as one in Christ. 


Ephesians 2:11–13 (NIV)

"Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called "uncircumcised" by those who call themselves "the circumcision" (which is done in the body by human hands)—remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ."


In the past, as Gentiles, you were separate from Israel. You were foreigners to the covenants of the promise given to Israel. As Gentiles, your identity was not formed in the covenant community. However, in Christ, Paul would continue:


Ephesians 2:19–20 (NIV)

"Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God's people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone."


In Christ, we have a new identity. Jew and Gentile come together in Christ to form one new covenant community, members of his household.


As Paul moves forward in his letter, he continues to develop our new identity in Christ. This is one of the reasons Paul became a "prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you gentiles" (Eph. 3:1). It was to make known the mystery of the gospel: Gentiles and Israel come together as one covenant community (Eph. 3:6). As one new community in Christ, our identity must shift. 


Ephesians 4:17 (NIV)

"So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking."


We are to no longer walk as we once did. Who we are, our identity is now formed in Christ. As Christ's new covenant community, our identity must shift. As Christ's community, what has informed you and influenced our thoughts and actions must shift. In Christ, we take on a new identity formed by Christ as his covenant family, the church.  


Ephesians 4:22–24 (NIV)

"You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness."


There is a new YOU, and the new YOU is identified in Christ. 


Watch Your Walk


As a new you, we are to be mindful of our actions and our attitudes. We must watch the way we walk. 


Ephesians 5:1–2 (NIV)

"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." 


Did you catch the word repeated three times in these two verses? Love.


- Dearly loved children

- Walk in the way of love

- Just as Christ loved us


For many of us, love is an emotion. What is Paul showing us? Love is not merely emotion; love is action. And the action of love is contained in the story of Jesus as we are directed to his life and the cross. We are to be imitators of our Father, walking and living in the example of Christ's love as we participate in his story. 


Everything we do, how we treat others, how we respond to situations, our conversations, our attitudes, and our work must be filtered through the story of Jesus and the cross (see Eph. 4:25-32). We are dearly loved children, and as his children (our new identity), we are to live out the story of our family, the story of sacrificial giving, the story of his love. 


Crossing The Context


In Christ, we have a new identity, the identity of his new covenant family. His family is shaped and formed through his story—a story of sacrificial love.


Christ's love calls us to walk in newness of life—a life formed by his love. 



notes:

Scripture references and quotations are from the: Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


1.     "NASA Tech Contributes to Soft Moon Landing, Agency Science Underway." NASA.GOV, 23 Feb. 2024, www.nasa.gov/news-release/nasa-tech-contributes-to-soft-moon-landing-agency-science-underway/. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.




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