What does THIS have to do with THAT?

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says,

“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”

(In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) Ephesians 4:1-10

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Table Rock Lake as seen from Top of the Rock | Ridgedale, MO | October 2019

“Sometimes,” says Penn Jillette (the magician who is now my default go-to on Youtube), “the most innocuous things a magician does means nothing at all, but actually means everything.” That’s magic-speak and code that let a performer on their magic show know that they knew the trick behind the magic. But it’s also instructive in regard to two things in these verses.

We are urged to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called. The question: What does that have to do with “He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.” How are these connected? 

The answer is found in these words: “In saying, ‘He ascended,’ what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth?” The one who rules and reigns over all things is the one who set aside his glory, power, and divine prerogatives in order to redeem us.

Jesus’ redemption goes deeper than simply forgiveness of sins. Forgiveness is essential. Without it we cannot be in the presence of God. But forgiveness – like faith – is never alone. For Jesus’ redemption reaches into our lives and relationships with one another and even with those outside the fellowship of believers. Jesus’ redemption lifts us to a life of humility, gentleness, patience, and love. Those virtues are inspired only by Jesus Christ. That pattern of life is reflective of Jesus alone. 

When our sins are forgiven, and we embrace God’s grace to us by faith, we are compelled to live a life worthy of our calling as beloved, redeemed sons and daughters of God. Jesus fills all things, including the hearts of believers. By his power and the power of the Holy Spirit we will display humility, gentleness, patience, and love. To God’s glory, and our neighbor’s good.

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