A Cry For Unity
A daily devotion for March 14th
4There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
There is one body and one Spirit just as you were called to one hope when you were called... (Ephesians 4:4).
This verse sets forth the nature of Christian unity. It is not a union to be produced, but a unity that already exists. These are not articles of theological agreement. No, these are areas of mutual experience. These are things that lay hold of us, not we who lay hold of them. All these are immediately experienced by all who are in Christ. Therefore, the way to create unity is simply to bring people to Christ, and the unity of the Spirit will be produced in them by the Spirit.
As we apply this great truth there are certain things that are evident: First, we cannot classify Christians by organizations. We cannot say that all those who belong to the Baptist church, for instance, are Christians, but all those who are Catholics are not. God's Spirit forever overleaps human boundaries. The unity of the Spirit will be found in people in many different groups. We will find Christians everywhere, and it becomes our responsibility to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace with Christians wherever we find them.
A second conclusion suggests that those who have entered into this unity of the Spirit cannot possibly join in an evangelistic endeavor with those who deny this fundamental unity. Why not? Because our actions are determined by our beliefs. These are such fundamental beliefs that they set the direction of our life. Where one person accepts these and has experienced them and someone else does not, you have two fundamentally separate directions. It is impossible for one person to ride two horses going in opposite directions—to attempt it puts a terrific strain upon the anatomy. This is why the Israelites were ordered not to yoke an ox and an ass together. Why not? Well, they go at two different speeds, they are two different heights, and they would simply chafe one another all the time. It would be cruelty to both to link them together. This is God's way of teaching us, symbolically, that there are fundamental differences of gait and direction—that two cannot walk together except they be agreed.
There comes a third practical application of this. The efforts of Christians are not to be directed toward creating unity but toward maintaining peace in the body. That is the way Paul puts it:
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (v. 3). It is important that Christians not be quarreling, bickering, and struggling against one another. A church that is like that is a totally ineffective body in its community. It is important that when Christians meet together they recognize that they are called to understand one another, to forbear one another, to pray for one another, to forgive one another, to be kind, tenderhearted, not holding grudges, not being unforgiving, bitter, resentful, and hateful toward each other. This is where the Spirit aims when He comes into our midst, at the healing of long-standing grudges, deep-seated resentments, and bitter hostilities that are harbored against one another. We must fulfill what the apostle tells us to do, to maintain the unity of the Spirit.
Father, may Your Spirit search my heart about my attitude toward others. Thank You that it is not my calling to produce a union of Christians but rather to discover that unity produced only by the Holy Spirit.
Life Application: Have we realized that it is not our job to produce unity, but to discover the unity produced by the Spirit? Have others noticed the peace, love, and life of Christ in us?
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