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. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. (v1-7)
In Ephesians four Paul is urging us, the church, to be of one mind and spirit. In the modern church we have so many different ways of thinking about so many different issues. But are we being unified by Christ as of one mind? This is a difficult question for me because the culture that we live in. America says that I am “entitled” to myself. Basically, discipline, mentor-ship, and authority do not set well with people who believe that they are their own boss.
But as it is one Christ who saved all of the church, the Body of Christ should be of like mind. This of course requires that we all, both church leaders, and young churched people, that Christ is the head of the Body of Christ. In 1 Timothy we read about many of the qualities of pastors and elders of churches, but that is not where I am going.
Church leaders can abuse authority just as church members can abuse entitlement. The point is that we must be of unity in the Body, but how? How can we be of one mind? Can we force each other to not abuse and to see eye to eye? No, I don’t think that is where Paul is headed with this.
We can be of one mind by simply bearing one another’s burdens with humility, gentleness, and patience. We need to be able to get dirty in the church by knowing each other’s sins, shortcomings, and confessed faults and bear them with each other with compassion and grace. I think that this is the key to being like-minded.
Averie and I are always closes when we are tag teaming with each other against the same battle or the same enemy. Both in and after battle, we both come closer together by fighting side by side instead of being idle and fighting each other.
Unity in the Body of Christ always requires that we be alert and not idle. It requires that we love one another by bearing with and for one another. As this process of sanctification takes place in the Body as one Body instead of several members of a body, we all grow closer together toward Christ. I heard a quote by Tim Keller who said, “You can be a Christian, but you cannot be the church.”
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (v11-16)
In this text Paul is encouraging us to grow in maturity for the work of ministry. All of us have a long way to go. I am excited about the revival that I believe is beginning to take place in Christians across the world, but I believe that we all have a long way to go, else we would not still be here. With this encouragement, it is always better to grow together instead of apart from one another. When we all work in accord with one another, we are more agile, equipped, and accurate in Christ’s mission to make disciples.
Assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. (v21-24)
Each of us has an old self and a new self if we are saved and a member of Christ’s Body. The old self is the old nature, or the old heart’s desires. The old nature desires after the ways of self while the new nature desires after the ways of Christ. However, Paul says that the old self is corrupt and cannot be cured. So his cure is not to “self-improve” as we see is encouraged by pop secular culture a lot, because we cannot cure the problem that way, we can only feed it. But the cure is by putting off your old self, dying to yourself, and taking up your cross and crucifying yourself with Christ! That is Paul’s cure! Because if you are really in Christ a new nature is sure to emerge that desires the things that Christ desires in His Word. This new nature is evidence that we are a new creation in Christ and must be fed to become stronger in us than the old nature so that it can unify our lives with Christ and the rest of His Body.
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (v30-32)
Sadly, in many churches growing up, I have seen an over abundance of Christless fellowship such as constant gossip and bitterness towards other people. I am not saying that this is the one problem that destroys churches, but I will say that there is no other corruption that destroys them faster than these.
Paul says that when we angrily misrepresent one another in order to compete and prove that we are somehow better than one another, we are grieving the Holy Spirit Himself. We need to treat one another as we would treat Christ. That is hard even for me! But we must do it! It takes true men of God and true mature Christians to treat one another as greater than ourselves. But it is so essential to unity in the Body of Christ.
I love you and God bless,
In Christ, Joel