Ephesians 4:1-3 (ESV)
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Unity through the display of humility, gentleness, patience and bearing with one another in love is in short supply in our world and in our society right now. In fact the displays of pockets of unification we do see are inspired by arrogance, aggressiveness, intolerance, and hatred. The world in which we live is in desperate need of the peace and reconciliation that will only come through faith abiding in the work of Jesus Christ through the cross and resurrection, to establish and empower unity with God and with one another.
Burdened with the importance of seeing Christian unity put on display, Paul writes to the church in Ephesus from a prison he found himself in, because of his unwavering commitment to proclaim the gospel of peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. As a servant empowered by God to be lovingly inspired as an others-oriented example, Paul encourages a local church to be unified even while he is suffering affliction and imprisonment.
The core messages shared for the benefit of all local churches is that the gospel of God’s grace through Jesus Christ is completely unearned and undeserved by all nations, all tribes, all peoples, and all languages. The mystery of gospel grace brings people of all ethnicities together as desperate sinners humbly dependent on the mercy of God for reconciliation and salvation. An important evidence of the fruit of salvation is the union of all believers by faith in Jesus Christ, put on display through the people of local churches living and serving together in biblical truth.
The unity we are called to promote is not something we create or achieve. We “maintain” the unity that the Holy Spirit has already spiritually established for us as children of God and followers of Jesus. Because we are bonded together as recipients of peace with God, we are inspired and empowered to love one another and revel in the displays of intentional concern and care for each other. In this way we put the light of the gospel on display for others to see (Cf. Matthew 5:14-16).
Our world and our society are in serious need of seeing true displays of loving and gracious unity that magnify God’s gospel grace to us in Jesus. Let’s take off the baskets of sin, selfishness, and self-containment that hide the gospel light given to us. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to put our God-enabled unity on display for us to enjoy and for the entire world to see!
[Pastor Mark Landess]