How awesome are You, my Lord Most High. I acclaim You as the Lord and King over all!
Read Ephesians 4:1-16
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” (Psa. 133:1, TNIV)! We must work and pray for unity among God’s people.
Christians should be gentle and patient, and love and forgive one another (1,2)! With this admonition, Paul draws on the image of the body of Christ to show how necessary it is. The image of the body is much used by Paul (Rom. 12:4-8; 1 Cor. 12:12-31; Col. 1:18). He returns to it whenever he wants to illustrate our interdependence within the church or the unity that underlies all our differences. Look at the aspects of our unity: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (4-6). But there is diversity, also. Paul quotes from a psalm to show that God gives gifts to people (7,8), and those gifts are quite varied. Yet although all the ministries within the church require different gifts (11,12), they are all dedicated to one purpose: the building up of the one universal church.
The goal is a maturity of faith which enables the church to withstand any onslaught, whether from heresy, or power play, or destructive leadership (14). This will only be accomplished if the body stays united with the Head. The Christ who was incarnate among us (9,10) is now present in his body as its Head. He is the source of its life, the one who holds the body together in unity and love.
It is easy to apply Paul’s concept of the body to a local church that we know. It is less easy to apply it to the Christian church worldwide. Traditions, cultures and theological emphases can be so different. Yet whenever I worship across national boundaries, I realize again what Paul means. However different or distant we are from each other, we belong together. For wherever Jesus is at the center, there’s unity.
Resolve to visit a church this month of a different tradition from your own, and ask God to draw you into a spirit of unity with them.
Lord, I thank You for the unity, diversity, and maturity of Your worldwide church. By Your Spirit, press in on the church where it needs to be renewed.
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