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Thoughts on Ephesians 4,1-6: A Devotional

I just found my devotional for the General Assembly of the World Evangelical Alliance in Pattaya in October 2008 on my computer, originally published at http://www.ga08.org/devotionals/article.php?id=38

„. . .I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling. . . .Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit — just as you were called to one hope when you were called — one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Paul in Ephesians 4:1-6, NIV)

There are wrong ways to create unity among Christians. Finding the least common denominator is one of them. Here the gospel tends to become smaller and smaller with every new player involved. Selling the truth or handing over leadership to those who seem nicest are other wrong ways.

But no necessary warning of wrong ways to achieve Christian unity can nullify our task to strive for the unity of the body of Christ and to proclaim One Lord, One Voice, One Body. Living in unity means “to live a life worthy of our calling.” Three times Paul mentions our “calling” as Christians in these verses as ground for the demand to unity. Being a Christian means to be humble, gentle, and patient to everyone, especially to other Christians. Thinking about wrong ways to unity may not keep us to from finding right ways to seek unity, above all, we are to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”.

Does this mean that we should forget about truth? No! If there is only “one God” (‘theos’), then in the end there can only be one truth about God (‘theology’). If there is only “one Spirit” and if it is the task of the Spirit to lead us into all truth, the Spirit and his truth will not divide but unite us. And if there is only “one faith,” we never have to choose between unity and faith, but deeper and clearer faith will always lead to unity, and greater real unity will lead to a deeper and common faith.

In Ephesians 1-3 Paul uses in-depth teaching to prepare for Ephesians 4. He reveals to us who God is and who Jesus is; he explains forgiveness, resurrection, ascension, and other central topics of Christian teaching. One needs to read these chapters over and over again to understand the whole depth of their message. Paul paints a magnificent picture of God’s universal purpose with the church of Jesus Christ. It is so maginficent that it seems far away from the reality of our often ugly local churches in.

So what practical outcome does the teaching in Ephesians 1-3 have? Very easy: “Thus I admonish you … (Ephesians 4:1) to live and work for unity! Paul’s admonitions in Ephesians 4 are not the end of biblical revelation and teaching but the practical result of it! “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

Let us pray that the Spirit of God keep us from wrong ways to Christian unity, but even more so, to make truly bibilical and spiritual ways to Christian unity the center of our thinking about the one church, the one body of Jesus Christ.

For the One Body of the One Lord should speak with One Voice.

 

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