Most Episcopalians are familiar with the opening rite to the baptismal service. Most probably dont realize that “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” comes from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Perhaps they will notice on Sunday when the fourth chapter finds its place in the Lectionary. I may say more about those famous lines later in the week, but today I’m struck by the sentence that comes immediately prior in which Paul does his best to summarize what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Humility, gentleness, patience, love, unity, peace and above all the Spirit: these are the hallmarks of a live seeking after the kingdom whether you’ve been a disciple for 15 minutes or 100 years; whether you are a layperson or a bishop. It starts with the Spirit through whom we are strengthened to endure the hard work that is peace and love and patience. Inviting Jesus into your life is only the first step in the path to salvation. The lifelong journey that begins in baptism assumes that your will join with the Spirit in seeking after the goals of the kingdom.
I wonder why the baptismal liturgy doesn’t go back to include Ephesians 4:1 explicitly? The Bapismal Covenant assumes many of the items from Paul’s discipleship but oddly we skip the overt biblical citation, we pass over these beautiful words and never look back. I’m not preaching on Sunday, not for another five weeks in fact, but if I were, I might spend some time on these seven keys to discipleship. After all, you’ll have plenty of time to deal with the Bread of Life Discourse.