Ephesians 4:1-16, Philippians 1:27, Romans 12:1-2, 1 Corinthians 12:4-13
There are differing opinions as to what it means to be a Christian man. Some would say Christian culture has emasculated men, leaving them weakened or tamed. Others might say the definition of a Christian man has been made so specific it alienates those with different giftings. Why such division? If we are brothers in Christ, why does our family seem so dysfunctional?
In this passage from Ephesians, Paul once again addresses unity in the midst of diversity, urging believers to walk worthy of their calling in Christ. I don’t know about you, but I tend to have selective hearing. If you give me five compliments and one criticism, I seem to only hear the one criticism. Though Paul’s focus is a bit more instructional in this passage, we must be careful not to forget the context of grace that permeates his message, even when that message intersects the practical topic of our works.
With grace as the context, we are challenged to walk in and live out the calling we have received. Paul exhorts us to do this with all humility and patience, accepting one another in love, while diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit as the peace that binds us (Ephesians 4:1-2). Might Paul’s focus on humility and peace reflect our tendency toward comparison and competition over unity and acceptance?
Paul goes on to list several gifts and roles within the body of believers, stating the purpose of the various gifts is “to build up the body of Christ, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into a mature man with a stature measured by Christ’s fullness” (Ephesians 4:12-13). When we do not live in the unity of the Spirit, we corrupt our gifts of ministry into idols of competition.
Competition strips the body of Christ of peace and unity. We will not be vulnerable, open, and honest if we feel like we have to earn our place of significance. At the same time, we should not deny our gifts or act as if everyone is created with the same gifts. God has displayed Himself uniquely in us all. We are all His poiēma (Ephesians 2:10), yet we are not all duplicates. We are created to fit together to accomplish what He has called and prepared for us to do.
God gives us each talents, abilities, and perspective. If we are to live out God’s call in the culture He has placed us in, then each talent, ability, and perspective is valuable, not just those that are the loudest or strongest.
To restore function to our dysfunctional family of faith, we must embrace the unity of the body of Christ that Paul preached to the Ephesians. To restore a healthy view of true Christian masculinity, we must stop competing and comparing, focusing on the Kingdom instead of on ourselves.
We are called to more, and in the unity of the Spirit, by the grace of Christ Jesus, we will achieve it.
Written by Britton Sharp