Living In, and As the Community of the King
Scripture Resource Passage: Ephesians 4:17-32
In part, but not in whole, apostolic letters (like this week’s Scripture Resource passage) add fullness and precise application for living in and as the community of the King. However, Jesus’ words always have priority—truly not the other-way-around.
Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude are not the primary source of God’s communication—Jesus is the Source.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6). Unmistakable—righteousness is spiritual sustenance for life. Spiritual hunger and thirst are comparable to the food-hunger and drink-thirst of physical life. Happily, or blessedly if you prefer, each can be satisfied. Jesus tells us it is possible. In the city of Ephesus Paul encounters nominal disciples who missed this vital connection. Dramatizing negative outcomes when righteousness is not being consumed they: “…have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, and they are full of greed” (Ephesians 4:19).
Righteousness is not being consumed by the disciples to whom Paul was writing. Righteousness is the choice food. As Jesus said, hunger and thirst for it—always search out and consume righteousness. Pursue righteousness as the soul-filling sustaining Bread of Heaven.
A second example of Jesus being the primary instructional source for life in and as the community of the King, recalling these words: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Matthew 5:19).
To the disciples at Ephesus Paul highlights the consequences of disobeying Jesus’ instruction: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you (Ephesians 4:31-32).
Did you notice, not much peace-making was occurring in Ephesus? When the Apostle writes, “Get rid of…” it certainly sounds like peacemakers are in short supply. Conflict is their harvest.
The transition for life as a follower of Jesus: Whenever you are seeking to understand any portion of Scripture’s specific instructions, including relationships between disciples, always include (at some point in your study) the primary source, the words of Jesus (Colossians 1:15-20). Friends, it is Jesus Who teaches us to live in and as the community of the King.
- “The followers of Jesus are to be different, different from both the nominal church and the secular world, different from both the religious and irreligious.” When our late British brother John Stott wrote this comment he was artfully encouraging disciples to pursue Jesus’ teachings, learning to live in and as the community of the King. John R.W. Stott, Christian Counter-Culture,Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1978.
- Another fine resource providing clear application of Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount: Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, Discovering Our Hidden Life in God, HarperSanFrancisco, 1998. A weighty but significant read meant to be digested, not scanned.