What does it really mean to be a Christ-Follower?

Paul's letter to those in Ephesus and all who are faithful in Christ Jesus.

After Paul blesses God, giving him all the praise and glory, he immediately reminds us that though we were once dead in trespasses and sins, we were made alive with Christ.

It is by grace you have been saved through faith. It is the gift of God, not a result of works.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

You were not saved by your own doing, but you must do good works to follow Jesus and work out your salvation.

John the beloved's Gospel records the good work: believe in the One God has sent.

Before you get caught up in modern evangelistic definitions of believing, you will find a clear answer to these works in Paul's letter.

There is a mystery that was hidden through the ages. Many people longed to know the revelation, but it was kept back until the fullness of the ages.

The mystery revolves around Christ. He is joining together in himself all things in heaven or on earth. He is bringing both Jews and Gentiles into one body to be partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus.

This is the promise of holy Spirit. This is the mystery. When the Spirit baptizes, immerses, and fills us, we are grafted into the body of Christ. We are one with Christ. One with each other. One with God.

So what does Paul pray for us who have been given this mystery and have received the promised holy Spirit?

Power.

That we would be strengthened with power.

Where?

In the inner man.

How?

Through the Spirit.

Why?

That Christ who is the Spirit may dwell in our hearts through faith.

That we would be rooted and grounded in his love.

That we would know the breadth, length, height and depth of the love of Christ.

That we would be filled with all the fullness of God.

This is holy Spirit's work in us.

And what is our response? What are we to do as members of Christ's body? What is our duty in following the risen Lord?

Is it to preach the good news? Is it to study the Bible? Is it to go to small group? Is it to pray? Is it to go to a conference? Is it to invite our neighbor to a gathering? Is it to tell our testimony? Is it to quote the Scriptures?

Paul's answer is clear.

Because God is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think according to his power in us, therefore walk.

Walk.

Walk in a manner worthy of this calling you have been called.

What calling?

The calling to be grafted into one body. The calling to be one with Christ. One with each other. One with God.

Bear with one another in love, with all humility and gentleness, and patience, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Love Peace Patience Gentleness Meekness

This is the fruit of holy Spirit.

Sometimes I wonder if all the things we do today to follow Jesus just miss the core of the message.

It can be exhausting to follow the "church" and serve in the "church".

Sometimes I wonder if the basic building block of following Jesus is simply just to walk.

Walk.

Walk side by side in unity, which means you are one together.

That means my brother and sister in Christ is one with me (and conversely, my biological brother and sister who is not yet in Christ is NOT one with me... not yet).

The foundation is the fruit of the Spirit. And what is the end?

That we may 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, so 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.

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

This is the purpose of the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers.

To equip us for ministry. What is the ministry?

Building up the body of Christ in love.

That we may be mature together.

I wonder if you can really follow Jesus by simply doing what the "church" tells you to do.

I go to a service, a small group, read my Bible and pray, maybe even serve the kids ministry. After I complete my checklist, I feel content.

My friends, it is not about doing (works) or being (a Christian).

It is about the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father who is over all, and through all and in all.

It is about growing up into the one mature body that gives God glory.

Why?

Because the Father is absolutely enamored with his Son.

When we look like the Son (and you cannot do it by yourself), then won't the Father be absolutely enamored with us?

This is the core of following Jesus.

Walk.

Grow.

Mature.

Attain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Be imitators of God.

But if we stop there, we will get into a whole lot of trouble. That's why Paul expounds to us what NOT to do.

Ignorance, hardness of heart, callousness, sensuality, greed, impurity, corruption, deceitful desires, falsehood, stealing, corrupt talk, grieving holy Spirit, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, malice, sexual immorality, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talk, crude joking, idolatry, disobedience, darkness, evil, debauchery.

Conversely, walking in the light is the opposite of walking in darkness.

Walking in light means walking in love, doing all that is good and right and true, and being transparent with each other. It means we should understand the will of the Lord, be filled with the Spirit, singing in psalms, hymns, spiritual songs to the Lord, always giving thanks to God and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

So then, how can we walk in the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness?

Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand, for if you cannot even stand, how can you walk?

Again Paul says it, put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand firm in the evil day, for the war we wage is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, authorities, cosmic powers over this present darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

And after you stand, keep alert, persevere, and pray for your brothers and sisters.

This is the picture of following Jesus.

Having been baptized into the body of Christ by the power of the holy Spirit, continue repenting from your old self and put on the armor of God to walk in his likeness in true righteousness and holiness.

The body of Christ is an army, all equipped with armor, shield and sword to fight the powers of darkness, stand together in the bond of peace, and walk forward after the likeness of God.

Amen!

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