Strive For Unity Within The Body Of Christ
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Paul reminds us here how to live the good life – we must live it in a manner worthy of the calling that we have received. Our calling – generally – is to deliver the message of salvation to every people and nation:
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Our calling – specifically – is to be the part of the body that God desires us to be by using the spiritual gifts that the Holy Spirit has empowered us with to serve God:
1 Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 2 You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. 3 Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
As living sacrifices, we are to live our lives in complete submission and obedience to God, giving Him the honor and glory that He so rightly deserves. When we live our lives in this way, we are living the “good” life – a life that is worthy of the calling that we have received.
Soft and Submitted
We are to be gentle and humble in our ways. This is exactly the same way that Jesus described Himself:
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
When we are gentle towards others, and have learned restraint so that we do not allow our emotions and desires to control us, we are able to do what we have been called to do. Because of our sin nature, we find ourselves at odds with what we know is right. We must learn to become more like Jesus. And Jesus, realizing that we could not grasp God, submitted Himself to the Holy Spirit as an example for us.
Unity can only be achieved through love in the bonds of peace. For true agape love – unconditional, volitional, and sacrificial love – comes through submission. We are to submit to one another in Christ. When we do this, the world will know that we are His disciples. Love binds us together in unity; for if we are seeking the good and welfare of others first, selfishness, pride, and discord will diminish and die.
Paul goes on to tell us how to be unified by reminding us that there is only unity in oneness. He gives us seven examples:
- One body
- The great spiritual divide among all the denominations should not exist. We are all part of the same body of Christ, separated only by geography. When we do not have unity in the body, we are separating ourselves from one of the greatest strengths that we have – unity of oneness. When there is corruption, we are to address it. And if those who sinning refuse to repent, we are to follow the Matthew 18 principle of church discipline.
- One spirit
- There is only one spirit. Not all paths lead to God – that is Universalism. Jesus has told us that He and He alone is the way, the truth, and the life – no one comes to the Father except through Him. And as Jesus is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, we are to be one with them and with each other.
- One hope
- Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand. The words of the hymns shed light on the great truths of the word of God. We have one hope, and our hope (complete and justified trust) is placed only in Jesus.
- One Lord
- Who is lord of you life? Who calls the shots? There is a bumper sticker that has been seen that says, “God is my co-pilot.” If that is the case, then you are in the wrong seat on the plane. Lord is a word that invokes the understanding of absolute and unconditional authority of someone over another. Jesus should have that authority – He has earned it. If we live our lives the way we want to, then we claim lordship over it, usurping His rightful authority over us.
- One faith
- We have but one faith – faith in Jesus Christ, and His work on the cross, taking our sins and giving us His righteousness in exchange. Faith in anything or anyone else is futile, for there is only one name under heaven given to mankind to be saved, and that name is The Lord Jesus Christ.
- One baptism
- There is only one baptism. We are baptized in the name of the Father, in the name of the Son, and the name of the Holy Spirit, into eternal life in Christ. Baptism into anything or anyone else is futile. We are unified in that there is only one baptism.
- One God and Father
- Finally, we are reminded by Paul that there is only one God and Father. Jesus has warned us that God the Father is the only true Father. Everyone else is under the control of Satan. We are unified by having God as our One and Only Father.
In each of these, Paul reiterates that there is unity in being one together. As there is only One of each of these, there cannot be division. If there is division, then we must be in disagreement with at least one of these, for if we are in agreement on all of them, there cannot be anything BUT unity.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask ourselves a question: Am I in unity with my brothers and sisters in Christ?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You have made it possible for us to live in unity with one another. Show me Your heart, that I may be in tune with it. Help me to live in harmony and unity with those You have claimed as Your own. Help me to submit to the Holy Spirit as well as one another that You would receive honor and glory from it. Show me where my pride is interfering with Your will, and bring is under Your control, so that I may be humble and gentle in spirit. Help me to learn restraint and give grace to others in areas that do not conflict with the core truths of the faith. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.