Unity in the Church

Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and living through all.  –Ephesians 4:1-6

Paul writes to the Ephesians from prison.  He’s already shared with them who they are in Christ.  He also has written about how Christ came for Jews and Gentiles alike.  Now Paul continues in his letter exhorting the Ephesians and us in how to live as God’s children.

He begs us to lead a life worthy of our calling.  What is that calling seeing that we are called by God?  First and foremost, we are called to love God with all our hearts, soul and mind and then to love our neighbours as ourselves.  Out of this love for God, we are to be humble and gentle.  Being humble is putting others before ourselves.  However, this does not mean that we are to put ourselves down.  We need to believe who we are in Christ.  Ephesians 1 is a great reminder of who we are (if you haven’t been following the blog up to now, it is well worth reading Ephesians 1 as Paul teaches us what our identity in Christ as Christians is).  To be humble is saying yes, I know who I am in Christ, however, I am no better than the person next to me on the bus, in my house, or in the church.  Being humble also means we recognise we are nothing with Christ.  We realise God is greater and we submit ourselves to him.  Paul not only says we are to be humble but we are to be gentle.  Gentleness is shown in how we treat others.  Many times we can be brash, speaking to others as if they are beneath us.  When we are gentle, we talk to others and treat them with love and respect.

Paul goes on to say we are to be patient with each other making allowances for each other’s faults.  This can be very difficult when we all have such unique personalities and differences.  One of my favourite questions I have seen lately is what if we saw others souls instead of faces, how would differently would we treat each other?  Patience does not come easy. People think differently than us.  They see the world differently.  Each person grew up in different environments.  We all sin differently.  The church is full of people who were sinners who are saved by grace.  God loves every one of us as we are.  Everyone needs Jesus. Remember, when we are pointing fingers at each other’s faults, there are three fingers pointing right back at us.  We are no better than the murderers, drug addicts, cheaters, etc.  We are all guilty.  Christ died so we may be saved by grace.  When we look at life this way, how can we not make allowances for each other’s faults?

Unity is a common theme for the rest of the verses.  Nelson’s Bible Dictionary translates unity as oneness, harmony and agreement.  Unity was evident in the upper room on the day of Pentecost as those who were there were one in accord.  The people in the upper room prayed together for days.  They shared everything, helping each other, working together as one.  Paul desired for the Ephesians to do the same.  Unity is one thing that is truly lacking in the church today.  Sadly, the world sees this and responds by turning its back on the church.  We are to be united in the Spirit.  As I said in the earlier paragraph, we are all saved by grace through faith in Christ.  There are doctrinal differences in the churches, but our main belief is Jesus is the Son of God.  He died and rose again and is a live today.  We believe that we are sinners needing grace.  This grace brings us into right relationship with God.  As a church we need to stand firm in our faith in Jesus Christ.  Being one in the Spirit brings us together, as diverse as we are, in a fellowship of hope, faith, and love that binds us together.

Peace binds us together.  Where there is unity there is peace. Peace is from God.  We are one body.  Each of us who love Jesus and are saved, are a part of the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:19-22).  The blood of Jesus covers us and the Holy Spirit fills us. Christ is the head and we are the body.  As the body of Christ we are to work together in unity and peace.  Just think about it, if a part of our own bodies shut down or broke, we would seek medical help.  We know we need the parts of our bodies to work together.  The same with the church.  If one area is broken, we need it fixed so we can move and work together as one.  All of us in the body of Christ are looking forward to the hope of eternal life we have in the future.

Paul reminds us there is one Lord!

One faith.

One baptism.

One God and Father of all, who is over all, and living through all.

I pray unity would reign again in the church.  I pray we put aside our differences and accept each other.  So what if one person likes traditional music and another person likes contemporary?  Some like quiet reflection whilst others like clapping and dancing.  It doesn’t matter what style of worship we enjoy.  The biggest problem in the church is pettiness.  Pointing fingers at each other as if our way of worship is the only way.  I pray God would forgive us!  I pray we would rejoice in each other’s faith.  I pray we would remember we are brothers and sisters on the same journey.  I pray God will unite us as one and we would be a force to be reckoned with!  I pray we would truly be humble, gentle and patient servants of Christ.  I pray we look and live like we truly are a part of the body of Christ so the world will see Christ is amazing, full of grace and love, and they will want to know about this hope and joy within us.  Amen.

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