Worthy of the Calling - Ark and Dove Presbyterian Church

Ephesians 4:1-16
John 6:24-35
Worthy of the Calling
So some years ago, maybe eight or ten, several young men, upper
teens and twenty somethings in our church were heading out to lunch after
worship, and they asked me if I wanted to come along. Now you know it’s
not every day that guys that age ask their pastor, to come along to lunch.
My spouse Kelly was working, I was free, so I said cautiously “so where are
you going?” They mentioned this Mexican place, that I had heard of but had
never frequented, called Chipoltle. Trying not to be a jerk, I asked gently,
“uh isn’t that a fast food place? I don’t really do fast food.” They responded
in triplicate, the portions are large, the food tastes great, way better than taco
bell and my mom who is fussy says it’s healthy. Oh here’s a concept, I
thought to myself with doubt and minor dread, healthy fast food. And I do
have a weakness for tortilla chips. OK I said, It’s by Safeway right? I’ll meet
you there.
The line was long when I came in the door but it moved and on my
way to the counter where you design your meal, I was reading posters about
Bell and Evans chickens, no antibiotics, humanely raised; I knew about those
chickens from Kelly and I read about other safe ingredients in their food and
I thought to myself, hmmn our guys from church were right and it even tasted
good. It was a nice gathering with Ark and Dove young adults and I have
thought several times since then, why did I not buy the stock? Over $700
per share this week and about $50.00 back then. 14 times your money in
eight years – not such a smart investor.
I have no doubt that Chipotle is in business to make money, but they
recently pulled pork products from their menus in one third of their stores
because they found out that their pork producer was not treating the pigs in
an ethical fashion. Not only are they serving fresh safer food, but they want
their animals treated humanely. I heard just the other day they found a new
farmer and pork will be back on the menu; but they potentially lost money
and clearly reduced menu selections because they chose to act with
integrity. In fact “Food with Integrity” is their mission statement, humanely
treated animals, raised with no antibiotics and growth hormones, no
Genetically Modified vegetables, freshly prepared in the restaurant not a
factory. Integrity requires actions -- actually cooking with fresh vegetables
and meats. Words alone, such as a motto "food with integrity," is just not
The same is true for the church and for the people who follow Christ.
In our passage from the Gospel of John, we find a Jesus who is chased down
by the crowds. They even sailed their boats across Lake Galilee to find him.
But what were they looking for? They wanted to see signs. They wanted to
be wowed and entertained with another loaves and fishes miracle.
wanted some fast food. They wanted low cost adventure and Jesus called
them out, not in a mean way, but he reminded them that faith in God, in God’s
Son is the Bread of Life. Integrity is placing this faith into action.
We read in our passage from the Letter to the Ephesians a plea from
the Apostle Paul or perhaps a student who wrote using his name, a plea to
live a life of faith, worthy of the calling. Paul calls us to humility, gentleness
patience and Paul calls to treat each other with love. In fact in an amazingly
rich and dense section of the letter, Paul reminds us that although we are
different in so many ways, you eat at Chipotle and you don’t, you are a
Democrat and you are a Republican, you cook a lot and you eat out, you are
mostly a European American and you are mostly an Asian or African or
Hispanic American. Although we are different in so many ways – There is
one body, the church, one Spirit- the Holy Spirit, One Lord God our Parent,
one faith, one baptism, one God, above all and through all and in all who
treats us with an integrity which is called grace. And if grace seems a jargon
word to you, then read this menu. Grace is the inclination and the love and
mercy of God that comes fast flowing at us every day. Grace is God crazy
in love with you. Grace is God chasing after you from Christmas manger to
loaves and fishes, to dark Friday Cross and bright Easter empty tomb. Grace
is the organic reality that no matter how badly we mess up and no matter
how badly we get messed up or messed with, God will stay by our side even
when God is disappointed in us and especially when God is sad, grieved and
aching over our pain.
It’s a good thing we have God’s grace because this attempt to live a
life worthy of the calling comes with a lot of hot sauce. According to this letter
to the Ephesians living with integrity includes four things: 1. bearing with one
another, 2. maintaining the unity of the Spirit, 3. speaking the truth in love,
and 4. growing up into Christ.
The city of Ephesus in what is now Turkey was an ancient Greek city
with a very large population for the time. It was home of one of the seven
wonders of the ancient world the temple of Artemis. It was a cosmopolitan
place with much cultural, religious and ethnic diversity, much like our society.
Ephesus like many of the churches founded by the Apostle Paul on the
shores of the Mediterranean, included both Jewish and Gentile Christians.
These gentile Christians had no background in what we call the Old
Testament and they didn’t always see church life the same way the Jewish
Christians saw it. This is a general letter applicable to any churches that
have any kind of diversity of culture or opinion. It is best to remember that
we are one body, one church in one Spirit under one hope that precedes
from the one God. We are to remember we are from the one and same faith.
If Paul was the author of the letter to Ephesians, it possibly could have
been written by one of his students, I wonder how he would feel about the
fractured nature of the body of Christ, Catholics, Orthodox, Mainline
Protestants, Evangelicals, Pentecostals and Baptists; three Billion people
thousands of denominations around the world. I wonder what he would think
of local church spats, or for that matter nuclear family divisions and the
discord that many of us experience in our work places or neighborhoods.
He would probably say something like, you know all humans stand in
need of grace and so if you are going to live with integrity as people of faith,
you have to bear with one another and all the gifts and “gnarly” quirks each
person brings to the world and their relationships. Most of all that means
living with patience, gentleness and humility. You work with someone long
enough, you live with someone long enough, you go to church with someone
long enough, they are going to get on your nerves. You are going to get on
their nerves. We know this because that’s how people are and yet still we
lose our patience and we exercise our frustration in both sneaky passive
plots and out right aggression. The bear with one another in the church in
the family and in school or at work takes patience, gentleness and humility.
These are the ingredients you need to bake a cake of integrity of bearing one
When it comes to church life, integrity at work, the path of peace at
home, sometimes you have to be willing to pull the pork from the menu.
You’ll need to go along sometimes to get along, in the face of adverse
challenges you may need go along a lot. Unity in the Spirit does not always
mean unanimity. The Presbyterian Church states early in its constitution that
“God alone is Lord of the conscience”, essentially asserting that you have to
live your life of integrity based on how you interpret the life of faith. During
the decades long debate on human sexuality, some people were fond of
sharing this quote from earlier times of division in the life of the Christian
With two Billion hungry people in the world and
countless wars and threats, it could be that some of the areas in life, toward
which we devote a lot of emotional energy could be spared the vitriol and
Speaking the Truth in love is the reality check and balance to the art of
compromise on the unessential in order to preserve unity. Speaking the truth
in love takes courage, patience, gentleness and humility. There are some
things that need to be said or behaviors that need to be identified or the Body
of Christ, the Spirit of the family, the state of the marriage or the integrity of
the work place will be harmed. Many times when we are injured or we
become cognizant of an immense violation of integrity, we are so sensitive
to the wrong, that we convict the theoretical perpetrator with all the
gentleness of a gladiator. If you had be confronted, if you had to be made to
face a personal short falling, if you had to own a mistake or blind spot that
was injuring the body, who would you rather hear it from; Jesus or Donald
trump? Enough Said; integrity even in course corrections.
Lastly we are told in the letter to the Ephesians that to live a life of faith
with integrity in all aspects of our life; we need to grow up in Christ. Faith
and integrity are things that need to be fed by Christian Education, regular
worship, personal devotions and acts of generosity and mission mercy and
justice in the world. Conferences, small groups, adult ed. classes retreats,
mission trips, Sunday School and Logos. Our faithfulness is found in the slow
work of being in relationship with the eternal God, who eases open our
clutched hearts and helps us to receive what can never be measured or
bought? The Bread of heaven is really the only food that satisfies. As I said
in my letter in the E-Arkive, our youth and children get a lot of screen time
TV, computer, video games, and internet exploration as do we. Living a life
worthy of the calling is an adventure in finding balance. Sometimes we have
to change the menu.