We belong to the Lord and one way we show that to the world is by the unity amongst his people.
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.
In verse 4, the Apostle mentions three aspects of our life where this unity exists. He is not telling us here to become united but rather to recognise the unity we already have because we believe in Jesus. Another way that Paul often expresses that is, we are “in Christ.”
The first point he makes here is that we are one body. He expanded on this considerably in I Corinthians 12. There he writes of the people of God as a body so that we are all dependent on one another. Using body parts as an illustration, the eye needs the hand, and both need the heart and the heart needs them and so on. This means that there is unity but not uniformity, we are all different and make a unique contribution to the life of the church. We can easily forget this, and the result can be harsh but entirely unwarranted criticism. Frequently, we are harsh because of a bias toward our own gifts. John Frame uses the illustration of two men, one with creative gifts for evangelism, and the other with gifts for careful church administration. The administrator may be critical of the evangelist because he disrupts the order in the church, but the evangelist may be harsh toward the administrator because he is not more involved in evangelism. The reality is that both are needed, and both are criticising because of an excessive focus on their own area of expertise at the expense of others.
The second point is that we have one Spirit; the one Holy Spirit is at work in each of our lives and in the collective life of the church. He directs each one of us to Jesus. He convicts all of us of our sin and leads us all toward a more holy life. With that work of the Spirit in all of us we can expect that our fellow believers will be comforted in similar ways to us. They will have similar conviction of sin and similar inner conflicts. This provides a solid foundation for our fellowship and mutual encouragement.
The third point is that we have “one hope of your calling” which adds to the thoughts above. As believers in Jesus we have all been called to him, he has died to give each forgiveness and rose so each can look forward to a blessed eternity. We are all called into the love of Jesus. We can sometimes forget that these life changing blessings belong equally to all the others around us who believe in Jesus.
While here Paul is writing about the realities of what we already have, it provides great weight to the opening verse of this chapter to walk worthily of our calling. Having so much in common with our fellow believers should lead to a great respect and love for one another in all we do.
Prayer: Father, we confess to you that we do not always do well in seeking unity amongst your people. Please forgive us for all our failures and teach us to remember how blessed we are and be stirred to a life of unity among your people. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
A song to listen to: Only A Holy God
Living Church – Creek Road