Paul is encouraging his readers to be one in the Lord. It takes work but it is essential to the health of Christ’s body; the Church.
Paul is calling everyone to unity. We are to be one as He is one. “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” (verses 4-6).
There is not a separate Spirit for those from different denominations. There isn’t a different God for different colors of people. There isn’t a unique hope for those of other nations. There is ONE God who called us ALL to Himself. He calls us to be one in spirit and purpose.
No, we will never all agree on every point in His word. We don’t even agree on “how” to be baptized and what is meant by the term “one baptism” here. What every member of Christ’s body does agree upon is that HE alone is the way of salvation. He is the Only Begotten Son of God. He lived, died, and rose again to purchase our salvation and freedom from eternal death. THAT is what we are to unite around.
But we are also to unite with our brothers and sisters in attitudes. We are told to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (verses 1-3). This means we care about our fellow believers. We don’t fight with them. We work at maintaining peace through love.
Yes, there will be times when love calls us to separate ourselves because of sin. But even then, it is done in love and for love’s sake. And if there is an opportunity for restoration, that too is done in love.
This is a tall order for us. We are such a diverse group of people. How are we supposed to agree with everyone to create this unity? Most of our leaders don’t even agree with one another.
When Jesus walked with His disciples He set the example for that unity. He was the head of all of those who followed Him. But instead of trying to do everything for all people on His own, He appointed others under Him to minister to the people. He didn’t remove Himself from service once He appointed His second line but He used them to reach more people than He could reach on His own. They followed His teachings and brought His message to the people.
Jesus still does that same style of appointment now. Through the Holy Spirit, different levels of appointments are made for the health of His body. Paul mentions several different callings or appointments. We are ALL called to share His good news but some are called to do so in a more structured role. These appointed persons’ main focus is to minister to and build up the body of Christ; to work towards unity.
Those given these roles are to be mature in their understanding and grounded in the truth. They are also to exercise even greater love, as their roles impact the body’s health on a deeper level than the everyday believer. Jesus’ love has to flow from Him, through them, and finally into every corner of the congregation. Call His love the “oil” for the “Tin Man.” Without His love the body is frozen and useless. With His love, applied in all the right places, the body is poetry in motion.
Father God, thank You for bringing us all together into one body. Sometimes it gets a little crowded and chaotic in here but that is because You are using us imperfect humans for Your hands and feet. I don’t know exactly where I’m supposed to fit in but I’m glad to be of use wherever I can. Thank You for the different opportunities to serve that You have given me over the years: teacher, musician, scribe, child care provider. EACH opportunity was precious and appreciated. Thank You for using me, warts and all.
Lord, help me unite and never divide your body. Let me pass Your love along in everything I do and say. Let me be a light for You. Thank You for choosing me as one of Your own! Keep me always grateful.