Unity in the church

Ephesians 4:1-16

Paul begins by challenging the Ephesians to do what honors God for they are now a part of His family (4:1). In the rest of the 15 verses, Paul’s focus is on two very important characteristics of the church: love and unity. These two characteristics work together within the body of Christ. They are signs of a mature or grown up community of believers.

Paul desires that we be united with our brothers and sisters in Christ by practicing humility, gentleness, and patience (4:2), for he knows that it is easy to stop loving someone when he or she has hurt me or the community. He encourages us to do all that we can to keep the unity of our community by practicing peace (4:3). He again emphasizes the idea of unity by telling us that the Body of Christ is a single body made up of many parts, and we are committed to, not only that one body, but also to one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one baptism, and so on. We are not committed to many different spirits or gods, but to only one. God has given each of us grace so that we can love and stay in good relationship with our neighbours (4:7). Paul continues in verse 11 by showing that God has provided people with different gifts such as apostles, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and prophets who will help us understand all that God requires of us and will train us so that we can maintain unity, carrying out God’s desire for the world and our community. As we grow in our faith, we will naturally move toward unity with each other giving up our childish ways in which we have understood God and treated our neighbor (4:13-14). Our community will be known by its truthfulness spoken in love (4:15). When we speak the truth, we become more like Christ. As we become more like Christ, our community begins to work properly, being known for its love and unity (4:16).

 

Other comments:

I really struggle with the idea of speaking the truth in love because I’m not exactly sure what it looks like. Often, I have found that people pull laws or “absolutes” from the scriptures and then push those ideas onto people as a kind of crusade against certain sins. This makes me think of the way the church often treats homosexuals. We act as though we understand them better than they understand themselves. In these moments, we then speak what we think is truth from the bible to them and in words that we like to call tough love, which seems to be more so truth, or what we call “truth,” without grace. I say this, not as someone who has always treated people well. In fact, I have been one of those poeple who has claimed to be speaking the truth in love when I have been much more speaking my version of the truth or my ideas of what God really likes or dislikes and then condemning the person who happens to be struggling with a certain sin that I don’t struggle as much with or maybe struggling with something that really isn’t a sin, but I want to label as one.

 

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~ by randallkoehler on May 21, 2012.

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