How Can We Have Unity
When we are all so different?!
Before we get into our scripture passage for this evening let’s consider some of the background leading up to it so we can see what Paul is saying to us today.
One of the major themes of Paul’s writings is the concept of unity. The letter to the Ephesians is no exception. I believe that the theme of the entire letter is unity. Two of the verses that express this theme are found in Ephesians 1:9-10.
Ephesians 1:9-10 (NIV)
9 And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ,
10 to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
It is God’s great plan to bring order out of chaos, to unite the whole universe with Jesus as the supreme ruler. The world is bent on division and destruction, but God is going to bring unity and order to us. Isn’t this a wonderful thought? We have the privilege of participating in the fulfillment of this great plan of God. Paul even says it is our calling.
At the end of the third chapter of Ephesians Paul praises God because He can accomplish far, far more than we can ever imagine by the power that He has caused to work in us. Ephesians 3:20-21 (NIV)
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
It is God’s plan. He has initiated it. He will accomplish it. We can plug into it. He is blessing us and equipping in order to unite us to accomplish His plan.
In the first 3 verses of chapter 4 Paul speaks of the attitudes that promote unity the opposite of which would result in the hindrance of God’s plan for us. Then in verse 3 he makes a statement that would seem rather odd to us in light of all that we have going for us.
Ephesians 4:3 (NIV)
3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Paul is saying to really work hard at keeping the unity of the Spirit which will keep us bound together in peace. With all that God is doing on our behalf why does it take so much effort to live in peace with one another?
Why is it so easy for us to see the failings of others and not our own?
Do we actually have unity of the Spirit at Davis Creek?
Why aren’t we growing? Whose fault is it?
Would you like to experience the exceedingly abundantly above aspect of what God has in store for your life and the life of His Church? Are you willing to make the effort?
It is not so much a matter of work but a matter of surrender. God will accomplish the work if we will submit to Him by submitting to each other.
As I think about the vastness of the mind of God and his desire for His people which includes the whole world I begin to realize that many of the things that I invest my effort, which amounts to my emotional energy, into often don’t amount to a hill of beans compared to God’s desires. I believe He wants to accomplish so much more in me than I am willing to let Him. Do you feel that way too?
As we prepare to consider the scripture for tonight, let’s approach it with a desire to see how we can support one another and so build up the body of Christ. This is what the author was addressing in this passage.
This evening let’s look at the beginning of Paul’s description of what the church is to be. Lest we jump to the conclusion that this passage is all about the God called ministry or spiritual gifts and miss the main point we are only going to work on 4 verses for tonight.
Ephesians 4:4-7 (Word study KJV)
4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Paul begins his description of the Church by a series of 7 acclamations of oneness.
You will notice that the author repeats the word one several times in this passage. When he uses the word one he means there is only one, not one among many or even one of two. The use of one also continues the theme of unity that was begun in the first three verses.
There is one body. Paul uses the term body to refer to the body of Christ, the church. By the church we mean every one who has ever accepted Christ as his savior. As a small part of the church we need to operate as a body. The body must function as a unit in order to support the Head. We don’t have the luxury of separating ourselves from the body, nor do we receive anything from God that is not meant to be shared with the body.
There is one Spirit. This refers to the Holy Spirit. There is an interesting truth that is connected with the term spirit. In the New Testament the word for spirit is the same word for breath. If the body has no breath in it the body ceases to live. The Holy Spirit gives life to the body of Christ.
There is one Hope in our calling. Our one hope comes from what Jesus accomplished for us when he died in our place and rose again. The call to hope is the same for all of mankind. If we choose to accept that call our hope also consists of confidently waiting for the day when God will bring all things under the Lordship of Jesus. We also have hope in this life because Jesus is the one who saves, sanctifies and keeps us. We can be confident because we know the One who will rule and our hope is in him.
Romans 15:13 (NIV)
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
There is one Lord. We are all servants of one master, our Lord Jesus Christ. He is also our King.
There is one faith. The one faith for the Christian is a complete commitment to the Lord Jesus. We have placed our trust in Him as our savior.
There is one baptism. I don’t think we emphasize water baptism as much today as they did in Paul’s day, but we still offer and recomend baptism to anyone willing to enter into it. I still remember the day I was baptised with water. Do you remember? It still means a lot to me today. It says in a very public way that I have died to my old life of sinfulness and have been raised to walk in the new life with Jesus as my savior.
There is one God and Father of all. There is only one true God, not one among many. It would have been a comfort to the people Paul was writing to because the Greeks worshiped many Gods. The understanding of a Father God is probably the strongest appeal to unity of all. In Him we see a God who created all. There has never been a person alive who did not owe his breath to the God of the universe. This is the apeal of the church to the world. As we exibit unity we prove the existance of the one God. Division shows the world that there is more than one god in our lives. The world for which, by the way, we exist wants to know the loving Father God that we know. The title Paul gives Him here sugests that He is loving for what kind of father would not love his children.
Our Father is above all. Above as it is used here means authority. There is no higher authority. We might say today God is in control. No matter what things may look like to us He is not worried.
Our Father is through all. He is not off in the distance somewhere watching things unfold. He is every where and He is always among us. Our Father is always working amoung and through us as well.
Our Father is in all of us. He is able to dwell in our hearts.
So we can see with these acclamations that we have a lot to unite us. We can also see that these truths and persons intertwine to form a unit in which we as the church are very much a part. At this point we are all in agreement, right? These are not the things that cause arguments and fights are they? Are these not the important things, the only things that really matter?
Then why are there arguments and fights, divisions and splits, broken relationships and divorce among people who have so much going for them?
We loose focus don’t we? We too easily loose site of the main reason we are here. That is to pull together and build up the church.
One of the reasons is that we are all so different. I am not like you. You are not like me and some of us are really unique. Paul is telling us that there is provision for that as well. Let’s look at verse 7 for a few minutes.
Ephesians 4:7 (Word study KJV)
7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
Everything that Paul has spoken of to this point in this chapter has pointed to unity. Now he is saying that each one of us has been given a measure of grace. This measure has to do with what it took to save us. In regard to that it took the same amount of grace for each one of us because there are not degrees of sin. Sin is sin period. It took Jesus blood to save us from our sin.
It also takes grace to keep us in a right relationship with God. In that since we are all special needs kids.
In the school system there are also children who are considered gifted.
So you can see that we are all gifted as well because Jesus gives us all the grace we need and all the opportunities that that grace affords.
So this evening let’s determine to keep focused on what is really important and stay away from the negative things that rob us of that focus and allow God to do things in and among us that will show the world that there indeed is a loving Father God that unites us on their behalf. This will also show the powers of darkness that they are defeated and our God is in control in one group of believers.