I came across this passage as we were preparing for an event to appreciate the sisters in our church.
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to one hope when you were called-one Lord, one faith one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:1-6
Paul spent the first three chapters describing the amazing work of Christ that not only rescued all sinners from God’s righteous wrath, but subsequently has brought all believers into one new family as God’s people. As a result, believers now belong to the Lord, and Paul finishes the letter off by describing what a Christian life ought to look like, a life “worthy of the calling you have received.”
It is very interesting that the first thing Paul mentions that characterizes this worthy life is a life of unity with others who have been called into this new family of God. It sounds like the unity of the church should be one of the top priorities for believers. Why? Because as believers we have the same Spirit of God living within us and the same God who reigns over us. And it turns out the church is to be one of the main vehicles in which to testify about God and His salvation work in the Gospel (Eph 3:10).
No wonder there is so much attack on the institution of the church. Satan must be pleased with all the conflicts, church splits, accusations, and distrust of church authority. In our consumer world, church has become less about how it advances God’s purposes and more about how it can meet our needs. If the teaching isn’t challenging enough, or worship not passionate enough, or fellowship not deep enough, then there’s a big temptation to church hop (or stop going to church at all) instead of sticking it out and contributing our gifts to make those things better.
The challenge is to be a united church body to reflect our Triune God. This is no small thing displaying God’s glory to the world. It’s a high calling and thus we must, as Paul exhorts, “make every effort.” It’s a daunting task for sure, with the church made up of people (who are still prone to sin) of different ages, genders, personalities, and quirks. And don’t forget Satan and his minions not wanting this to succeed either. But if the work of Christ can reconcile us to God, for sure it can help us get along with one another. (Actually, more than just getting along.)
We sang a song about this during our sister’s appreciation event, particularly about how the brothers and sisters are united in Christ. It’s floating around Facebook somewhere. If you find it, I hope you won’t think less of me as a medical professional…
What’s your view of the church and what would “making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit” look like?