October 22, 2017
Read EPH 4:1-16
Prologue – to date, I have spoken on the strength of God, and God’s power for you to resist temptation, i.e. all about God and you. Today I want to talk about you as part of the Body of Christ!
Setting: in Eph Chp 1-3 – Paul eloquently outlines all the riches, blessings, honors and privileges that are freely given to us through our Salvation and identity in Christ.
From Chp 4, the theme transitions from what God has done for us, to what we are called to do for God.
BUT…. The calling from God for your life is not in isolation; but rather as part of God’s plan that He has for the body of Christ; i.e. the church = i.e. living in unity in the Body of Christ.
Analogy of a team;
story of chain – a chain is only as strong as the weakest link – don’t like this analogy because each link in a chain is “passive”; and it implies that breaking of the chain (letting the team down) is due to one link!
Better analogy is getting over high tower– everyone had to use their strength to get each other (whole team) over tower.
What is Unity _ [in the Body of Christ]?
Firstly, we can say what unity is NOT.
The Unity that Paul talks of is more than simply friendship!
It is more than simply meeting together. e.g. social groups or social media
- Christian unity is a result of God’s work in Christ.
i.e. unity provided by the Holy Spirit. Hence it is a unity that we can never produce by ourselves.
In vs 4-6, there is:
- ONE body – the body of Christ
- ONE Spirit – the Holy Spirit
- ONE hope when you were called; – the same hope that we share in our eternal destination
- ONE Lord – the Lord Jesus Christ
- ONE faith – that Christ is our Salvation
- ONE baptism – the baptism of the Holy Spirit
- ONE God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
In vs 4-6, you may think that unity means that we all have to be the same.
The world full of ‘Daryl’!! – my dream come true!! My wife’s worse nightmare!!
But in reality, in unity there is diversity. The analogy Paul uses is the human body.
I am a physiologist, so the human body is my specialty! A very very complex system!!
Each part of the body is different with a unique job to do = for the good of the whole body!!
As Christians, WE all share the common goal of building up the ONE body!!
So each of us has a unique role and, although it is easy to think that you are insufficient, or that there is nothing that you have that is of any worth,
but remember that ‘WE’ (teachers and Saints) have been equipped by God….. for a purpose!
Purpose = works of service for building up the body of Christ [church]!
Denying that there is anything that you have or can do for the Body of Christ is in essence calling God a liar – denying the truth of God’s word.
Unity is not easy!!
Factors that can foster the very growth of unity in a church.
1) Community – Inherently, we have a sense of individualism. E.g. society wants to promote this, by promoting “number one first”.
And admittedly, we are all made differently, so different personalities may clash…
But the bible says “The person who loves God must also love other believers” – 1 John 14:21
And a real incentive for striving for Unity is that we will be spending eternity with our spiritual family.
Importantly, Paul does not say that we are to simply put up with each other, or bear with one another, but to “bear with one another in love”.
NLT = “making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love”
2) Patience – Also in vs2, Paul instructs us to be “patient” with one another. In the past I have been quick to overlook this command. I mean, why are we to be “patient”?
Because…… attaining unity in the Body of Christ is a journey; it takes time!!!
Yes, God has equipped us for building up the body.
But note in vs 12-13 that God equipped us for works of service so as to strive towards unity, not that we first have Unity to identify the ways in which we can contribute to building up the body.
NB: The ‘works of service’ come before the Unity is formed; Unity is what we are working towards!
3) Perspective –
One of the greatest threats to Unity in the Body of Christ is our lack of perspective.
Paul says “Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s [faults]”.
What are the faults = opinions?.
To put it in perspective: God has poured out immeasurable riches in Christ Jesus.
“And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus”. (Eph 2:6-7).
Yet how quickly we forget this amazing promise when the most ‘insignificant’ issue arises or offends us.
Our differences should be used to build up the Body of Christ; – not cause division!
People have walked out of a church for, what appears to be, the most trivial matter.
Remember, God has poured out His immeasurable grace and mercy, that we may be spared the fires of eternal condemnation!!!
In response, we are called to Unity in the Body of Christ for the great purposes God has called us to.