Yesterday, I had the privilege of preaching through Ephesians 4:1-6 in our Sunday morning series. The focus of the text was the subject of unity. It’s no secret that we see disunity surrounding us on a daily basis in the world of politics and the corporate business world. We live in a cut-throat society where people are willing to do whatever necessary to achieve success. The church, however, is called to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace for the glory of God.
The Duty of Maintaining Unity
If you refuse to perform regular maintenance on your automobile you will soon find yourself broken down on the side of the road. The same thing is true in regard to the local church. If we as a people are not walking in a manner worthy of the calling, humble, gentle (meek), patient, bearing with one another in love, and eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace—the church will break down too.
In Paul’s day, the church was grappling with the friction of Jew and Gentile relationships. The issues were complicated and at times, very heated. What was at stake was the very fabric and mission of the church as God designed it. For Paul, he understood the importance of a God ordained ecclesiology. At the heart of this issue was Christian unity under the banner of the gospel. There was no other option. It was mandatory in Paul’s day and it remains so in our day too.
As a Christian, it’s essential to look to good examples in life and in the biblical text. Certainly Moses is a worthy example, as Numbers 12:3 reports that he was the most humble man on the face of the earth. The prophets of old were examples of “suffering and patience” according to James 5:10. We see that Noah labored in patient obedience as he built the ark and preached the Word. As we move over to the New Testament, examples of faithfulness include Paul and the other faithful disciples who gave their lives for the sake of Christ. Timothy was instructed by Paul and remained steadfast in his calling.
The world has seen enough division in the realm of politics, racial divides, and the business world. What the world needs to see is a body of Christ joined together by the blood of Christ and held together by the Spirit of Christ in Christian unity. That proclaims the excellencies of Christ to a lost world (1 Pet. 2:9).
The Doctrine of Unity
The doctrine that undergirds the duty of unity is visible in Ephesians 4:4-6. Paul continues to use repetition as a highlighter of the central aspect of unity that he was driving home to the early Christians in Ephesus. He repeats the word “one” on numerous occasions as he points out the one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.
In sports, a team can wear the same uniform and when they go out onto the field if the are not working as one team in unison, they will fail. This is laughable in the world of athletic competition, but it’s lamentable in the Christianity when a church wears the same uniform but fails due to disunity. There is no other word to employ for such behavior other than sin. Therefore, it’s our duty to stand upon the doctrine of unity in Christ and to guard the church from division. This honors God. This proclaims the gospel. May the Lord be praised in your church as you become an agent of unity rather than an agent of division.