Foundations for Unity
“There is one body and one Spirit….” (Ephesians 4:4)
Bible Reading: Ephesians 4:4-6
The nature of the spiritual bond between us as Christians is one reason why we should be eager to maintain a spirit of unity among us. But there are other reasons as well, intimately connected with this.
Paul speaks of them here when he writes, “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” (Ephesians 4:4-6).
One, one, one! Paul repeats the word again and again, and for good reason. For it is the fact that there is but one body, one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one hope, one baptism and one God and Father that makes it so imperative that we should live together in unity.
Just think, for a moment, if this were not the case – if, for example, there was not just “one faith”, but many faiths. Suppose there was a faith for Calvinists, one for Arminians, another for radical feminists and one for liberation fighters and so on. Then, Christians could conceivably belong to different groups and not need to have anything to do with each other. In that case, there would be no need to “make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (v. 3).
But it is precisely because there are not many faiths – nor many Lords, baptisms, gods etc., – that keeping unity in peace is so very important. We belong to each other and depend on each other. We are children together of the one heavenly Father who is “over all and through all and in all.” How it must grieve him when his children divide into groups or remain at odds with each other instead of preserving the unity created by the precious bond of the Spirit.
If Paul’s words do anything, they force us to base our relationships with others on things outside of ourselves – on objective realities. The encouragement to unity the apostle provides here isn’t based on liking one another. That’s not a good basis for embracing and loving each other well. There are too many unlikeable things about us as individuals to make personal matters like that the basis of unity.
Instead, we have to base our determination to live at peace with each other on things that are true and unifying irrespective of our likes and dislikes. The fact that there is just one body (one Church of Christ) compels us to live and work together in a spirit of closeness and love. That we have one Lord and Master means we are serving the same person, and shouldn’t be at odds with one another. How can we please him and work together as he intends if we are fighting each other and have unhealed rifts between us?
That’s the way we have to think – and then we have to live accordingly!
- Do you find some fellow Christians difficult to get along with?
- Are you letting your likes and dislikes govern the way you act towards them?
– Andrew Young