After several weeks of failed attempts to divert from the text and go off on a rabbit trail on the topic of diversity and tolerance, I have finally learned my lesson, stick with the text. In verses three through six of chapter four of Ephesians, Paul discusses the topic of unity of the believers. “Endeavouring” to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Ephesians 4:3-6
As a review, we recall in chapter two and three, how Paul addressed the conflict between the Jews and Gentiles and how that we, as Gentiles are fellow-heirs with the Christian Jews. This was a big deal back then and I suspect it is a big deal in Christianity today. Moving into chapter four Paul reviews our vocation and how we are to walk in our vocation –through lowliness, meekness, longsuffering and forbearance in love and then he gets to unity of the believers.
Paul uses the word “endeavoring” in verse three to describe how we are to approach this biblical unity. Endeavoring means to do/give/be diligent, to labor, to study. We are not to approach unity with a hum-drum attitude, and attitude of carelessness or complacency. Unity does not come easy and Paul is telling us that we are to be diligent, to pursue it, work at it, to strive for it.
How often do we pursue unity among our breather that may be a little different than ourselves? Do you homeschool, use the public school system, or a Christian school? How is your unity with those who use other forms of education then yourselves? What about your church? Is it an “us 4 and no more” kind of church? Do they fellowship with other churches that do things a little different than you do? I’m not talking about having unity with a family or church that has significant doctrinal differences for as we know, light and darkness cannot not go together, but what about those that may do things a little different than you do?
Why is it so hard to have unity with people that are different? Paul hit the nail on the head, the verse just before verse this one. We always want to assume that we are right and the other person is wrong. We want to be the person that has it all together but that other person or group are the ones that just can’t get their act together. Oft times don’t want the heat attitude of longsuffering or tolerance for those who may be in a different place in their spiritual walk. We have the attitude of, “Hey, I got it, I understand what God is teaching me, why don’t they?” Not realizing how God deals with us as individuals and therefore each of us are learning different biblical principles at different times or places in our lives. It is interesting and obviously planned by the Holy Spirit to have Paul write about these character qualities BEFORE he mentions unity.
Another reason why we find it so hard to find unity with those different then us is because we fail to remember what Paul reminds us of in verses four through six. “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” Notice that last phrase, “and in you all”. Wow. How often to I fail to remember this of other Christians? How about you?
On the flip side, I think that we all have had instances where we were somewhere in a non-“religious” setting and we met someone for the very first time and immediately our hearts spoke to us and told us that they were believers. How does this happen? It is that unity of the Spirit that is bound in the Peace of God. No other faith on this earth can ever hope to have this kind of Spirit-filled unity. We are blessed beyond measure to have the Holy Spirit, the third part of the Trinity, living inside of us. Teaching us, guiding us and uniting us together in one body.
In a world that teaches and preaches diversity and how much we are all different, the Holy Spirit and God’s Word, teaches us how much we as fellow-heirs have in common. That is the foundation to unity.
We could continue on for another many hours discussing this section of this chapter but if I even intend to get to chapter six, the chapter I originally wanted to discuss, I need to move along.