In Ephesians 4:1-32, Paul asks believers to stop doing some things and to be sure to do others. What are those things?
Ephesians Chapter 4 begins and ends with calls to care for each other as church members (Ephesians 4:1-3, Ephesians 4:32). Between these invitations, Paul offers strong support for the idea that we should nourish unity in the church.
He begins by listing seven “ones”: There is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord (Jesus Christ), one faith, one baptism, one God and Father (Ephesians 4:4-6). We are bound together by these spiritual realities. We are, in fact, united.
While unity is a theological certainty, it requires our hard work. So we should always be “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit” (Ephesians 4:3, NKJV). One way each of us may do so is by being an active “part” of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:7-16). Every member is a gifted part of the body and should contribute to the health of it (Ephesians 4:7, Ephesians 4:16). And all should benefit by the work of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers (Ephesians 4:11-12). These, like ligaments and tendons, have a unifying function, helping us grow up together into Christ who is the Head of the body (Ephesians 4:13, Ephesians 4:15).
At the time, Paul also told them “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Ephesians 4:14, NKJV), words that clearly suggest that the early church faced some internal struggles from “the trickery of men.”
As Paul moves toward his final appeal, to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another” (Ephesians 4:32, NKJV), he asks believers to avoid their former hard-heartedness (Ephesians 4:17-24) and to avoid anger and harsh speech, substituting instead language that builds up and imparts grace (Ephesians 4:25-31).
This chapter on unity is easy enough to read when things are peaceful. It is more challenging — and important — to read it when we become embroiled in some conflict. Are you remembering today to experience the unity of the body of Christ, the unity for which He died?
|What are ways that we can contribute to the unity of our church, both at the local and worldwide level? Why is it important that we do what we can?|