September 21, 2016
Today’s reading: Ephesians 4:1-13
The very essence of unity in the body is the unity that is in the Godhead--Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is "one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (v.6). There is "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (v.5). There is "one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call" (v.4). God being one, so too are we the people of God to be one--one faith, one baptism, one body, one hope. With peace and unity in the body essential to being able to accomplish our mission, our life and energies are to be spent "striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace." (v.3).
Now unity is in diversity. There are different works, ministries, charisms, responsibilities, movements, entities. For example, as to charisms, God "gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers" (v.11). All work to build up the body and move its mission forward. Apostles are those who are sent on mission. Prophets are those who speak in the name of God to His people, for guidance, encouragement or chastisement. Evangelists proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus. Pastors care for the flock. Teachers give formation to the faithful.
All these diverse gifts are given for one purpose, "to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ" (v.12). The people of God are on mission in the world, they do God's work according to God's plan, and they are equipped by the Spirit for this mission. The spiritual gifts help build up the body, one that has many parts, in order to be used by God according to His purpose.
Now those to be built up are the holy ones. God's people are called to holiness. They do divine work. They stand in God's place. They are destined for heaven. The use of the various gifts help not only unity in the body but also maturity, so that God's people would become other Christs. The body continually is built up "until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ" (v.13).
Wow. What a calling! How do we respond? How do we help preserve unity and peace in the body, especially given the diversity? We do so "with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love" (v.2). We are to be humbled that God has called us despite our being unworthy sinners, and will use us for His divine work. As we look to God, who is gentle and patient with us, bears with our shortcomings, and loves us unconditionally, so too do we deal with our brethren.
Again, what a calling! "I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received" (v.1).
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