Sunday, October 10 2021
Christian unity is very much how we walk in this life in response to the hope of the gospel. To introduce unity, Paul wrote, “I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1 ESV). The apostle Paul wrote this reminding Christians of God’s greater purpose for them. God calls believers to the hope and glory of the eternal life by the gospel (cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:14). How is one’s behavior and calling to hope essential to unity?
Paul urged the church in Ephesus to walk worthily which includes living with all humility, gentleness, endurance, and bearing with one another in love, and this is necessary for striving to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2–3). Unity in the church begins with each believer’s lowly perception of oneself and willingness to bear with other personalities. This is not an easy task. Families struggle to stay together, so the church often struggles too. However, Christian families and the church family have a humbling hope and gentle grace that allows for true unity. Later in Ephesians 4, the apostle Paul taught the church to “speak the truth,” “be angry and do not sin,” “labor doing honest work,” “let no corrupting talk come out,” “let all bitterness and rage and anger and yelling and slander be set aside,” “be kind to one another,” and “forgiving one another” (Ephesians 4:25–32). These behaviors maintain peace and unity in the church family and in our homes. The apostle further instructed holy living apart from sexual sins, how wives and husbands are to love each other, and how children are to honor their parents (5:22–6:4). All of these actions contribute to maintaining the oneness of the church of Christ.
As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are going to disagree about things outside the specifics of the Bible. We may not agree about local policies in the community or trust the same civil leaders. We may not agree about using social media or doing business with certain companies because of their social and political stances. We may have strong opinions about eating certain foods or celebrating specific days of the year. We can struggle to refrain from speaking our minds about these things. Paul taught the church at Rome not to argue over opinions whether about one’s diet, what is best to eat, or what days we esteem as more significant than others (Romans 14:1). The apostle instructed Christians not to judge or offend others in matters of opinion and inferences (14:1–23). Christians are not to have divisions but unite with the same mind and same judgment (1 Corinthians 1:10). God would not instruct this unless we could be one.
Christians are not united merely for being “together,” survival, commerce, or a sense of belonging. What unites Christians in one body is much more. In Ephesians 4, the apostle Paul noted seven core beliefs for which all other beliefs and practices in the church are connected. Paul wrote that “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” (4:4–6). Each of these seven “ones” are essential to make one body of faithful Christians. However, many today say that baptism does not really matter, and so they dismiss the words of Paul and even more so the words of Christ (cf. Matthew 28:19). Baptism should not divide any believers, because there is one baptism and it is essential to unity.
God has given us everything that we need to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. We must strive to maintain the unity with humility, gentleness, and endurance. Thank God for the peace that binds us together in one body as we unite by one Spirit, called by one hope, for one Lord, by one faith, in one baptism, and for one God and Father.