[This is Week 3 of a 4-week preaching series on Ephesians.]
Preaching text: Ephesians 4:1-16; accompanying text: John 15:1-4
Ephesians is ostensibly written by an imprisoned apostle Paul, and here the prisoner in the Lord implores his readers to live worthily of their calling to life without dividing walls or prison bars. The center of the text, however, is not an imperative, but the story of Christ’s astonishing freedom and willingness to descend to earth with the gifts of heaven. We know this plot line from Philippians 2. He did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped. He emptied himself.
Commentators disagree on the order of the descent and ascent described, yet finally, it matters little whether the descent in Ephesians 4 is the pre-incarnation descent of Christ from a place of privilege in the heavens, or what we know better as the post-resurrection descent of the Spirit of Christ with gifts for the church. Either way, heaven and earth, divine and human are not so tidily divided as we imagined, and they never will be again. Christ has bridged the distance, giving gifts so that we might all grow up into him.