Ephesians 4:1: “…walk worthy of the calling with which you have been called…”
It is not uncommon to see Christianity trivialized or mocked, nor is it unique even to witness persecution. Luke 22:63-65 illustrates this, “Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him. They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, ‘Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?’…” Many received similar treatment, as Hebrews 11:36-38 records, “Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword…” Despite this, 1 Peter 4:12-14 advises, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.”
Christ Himself summarizes this conflict in John 15:18, stating, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”
Of course, persecution in the U.S.A. often amounts to little more than MSNBC taking a swipe at “white Christians,” YouTube shadow-banning a video, or maybe a potential job discrimination. Even so, much of this is an outgrowth of the conservative vs. progressive positions, to which Christians usually associate on the conservative side. There are signs of it getting more serious, such as government efforts to convince everyone that “white supremacists” and “anti-abortionists” are somehow the most pressing terrorist concerns in the modern era. No doubt it will get worse.
Indeed, in other parts of the world, the persecution is significant. Christianity Today reports that “more than 5,600 Christians were killed for their faith last year (2023). More than 2,100 churches were attacked or closed. More than 124,000 Christians were forcibly displaced from their homes because of their faith, and almost 15,000 became refugees.” Many of the incredibly brutal nations included North Korea, Somalia, Yemen, Eritrea, Libya, and Nigeria, primarily communist and Islamic countries.
In Ephesians 4:1-3, Paul states, “I…exhort you to walk worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, being diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Walking worthy is not a command, it is an appeal for a willing surrender and of unity. We could never deserve what God has done for us through salvation, but we should walk in a manner befitting of what He has done. This walk or actually, lifestyle, incorporates humility, gentleness, patience, love, and diligence to keep unity so that, as Ephesians 4:14 reminds us, “…we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming, but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, that is Christ…”
But, in light of persecution, how are believers to walk?
The “walk worthy” of Ephesians 4 “is” the lifestyle of a Christian under persecution. Paul, the author of Ephesians knew little other than persecution. 2 Corinthians 11:24-25 is typical of Paul’s everyday experience, “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea.”
As pathetic as the media portrays Christians, true believers will walk worthy of their calling, in the midst of persecution. They are not interested in winning arguments: is God real, is Christianity true, or does it save sinners; they are interested in sharing the truth in love and letting God take it from there. They maintain the attitude of Paul in Romans 8:18, ”For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Beyond that, they pray for forgiveness – even for MSNBC, Rachel Maddow, and Joy Reid…