Therefore, as a prisoner for the Lord, I encourage you to live as people worthy of the call you received from God. 2 Conduct yourselves with all humility, gentleness, and patience. Accept each other with love, 3 and make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit with the peace that ties you together. 4 You are one body and one spirit, just as God also called you in one hope. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father of all, who is over all, through all, and in all.
7 God has given his grace to each one of us measured out by the gift that is given by Christ.
Unity in the church has been much on my mind. The post covid world is dividing into the usual “us against them” sides. Being able to discuss issues, much less reach compromises, seems impossible. Even our United Methodist Church is in a season of division. We may disagree, but the idea that we are one in Christ, while seeing the divisions happening within the body of Christ, is heartbreaking. We seem more focused on creating endless fragmentation along our individual beliefs than loving each other as Christ loves us.
Paul was writing this letter to the Ephesians from prison to exhort and encourage them, and us, to live a life worthy of our calling. Paul understood the divisions that existed in the early church. People from so many diverse cultures, seeking to follow Jesus, were united together by the Spirit, into the body of Christ, the church. They too struggled to love each other in humility, to be bound together in peace, while caring for each other. They struggled with the same issues we struggle with today; that neither individualism or uniformity create unity. Only by loving God and each other, as Christ loves us, and by using our gifts to serve in the world, can we be the body of Christ, united by the Spirit, in the world.
Unity is possible because in Christ we share “one body, one Spirit, one hope, one calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and one Father of all.” We have all been offered God’s gift of grace and blessed with spiritual gifts to serve God and the church. Each of us as individuals has been equipped by God to bring our unique gifts together so that we can be the body of Christ in the world. Our work is to nurture those in the church so that they may grow in grace to spiritual maturity and then nurture new disciples. This is how God transforms us and the world.
by Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
Pauls’ words fill us with encouragement, that unity in Christ is not only possible, it’s God’s plan for the church. Paul’s words of encouragement fall on us, especially when we’re discouraged, like rain on parched ground. Encouragement fills us with hope and the energy to go on and comforts and strengthens us.
What unique gifts has God given you to serve in the church and the world? Are we living as people worthy of the call we received from God?
Prayer: Loving God, who is over all, through all and in all, unite us by your Spirit in love so that we may be the body of Christ. Help us to live as people worthy of your call and to use the gifts you have given us to serve your church. Amen.