"I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
I remember doing an in-depth study of Ephesians back in 2013 and over and over again I kept coming back to this theme of unity.
In a time when churches split because of “worship styles,” and as Christians we tend to argue over the silliest things, is it really possible to obtain true unity? The unity that God is calling us to?
Well, the answer is yes, because it is not in our responsibility to create the unity, but to keep it. We are commanded to keep the unity of the Spirit. In other words, God united us as believers in His Spirit, and it is our responsibility to always seek to live in unity and stay away from things that would break that unity.
As I studied these verses I became more aware of things that were breaking unity in God’s people and His church. How often do we begin to judge others--especially other Christians--because they are from different religious or social backgrounds, etc.? Maybe they look differently, talk differently or act differently than we do. Often in these situations we begin to judge others and consider ourselves better than them. But what we are really doing is creating disunity in God’s church and His people. We are putting up barriers that Jesus already broke down (Ephesians 2:14), and in the process we are dimming our light as God's witnesses.
In Christ Jesus we are all one (Galatians 3:28). It doesn’t matter how many differences we have. We are all united by our common belief and faith in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I think it is time that we all begin to walk worthy of our calling in Christ. To walk worthy of this calling means that we need to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit. How are some practical ways that we can do that?
1) Seek peace. As Christians, peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit that we should be striving to maintain in our lives. Arguing over little things disrupts unity, so think about ways to resolve a disagreement peacefully. Speak with the one you are disagreeing with and discuss ways that you can work out something peacefully. Now this doesn’t just apply when you have disagreements with friends or other members of your church. This also applies in your family, with your siblings, parents, etc. Seeking to maintain unity in the family of God usually begins with maintaining peace in your home first!
2) Don’t judge. When I was studying about unity while I did my Ephesians study, I was convicted of areas in my own life when I would judge others. When people dress differently than us or live differently than we do, it is easy to be quick to justify or defend ourselves and judge the other person. But the only thing this is doing is dividing us. Like I said earlier, we are all one in Christ and we need to live that way.
3) Initiate friendships. This can sometimes be hard to do, but I urge you this month to seek out others who may be in your church or maybe they aren’t, who are different than you. Maybe you haven’t talked to them before because you thought it would be awkward since you’re so different and you wouldn’t have anything in common. I encourage you to “walk worthy of your calling,” and reach out to that person. Push past your differences and remember that you are united by your faith in Jesus Christ and your status as His children. You never know, you may just realize that you aren’t that different after all!
What are some ways that you think you could create unity in your family, friendships, or church relationships? What are some of your favorite verses in Ephesians 4? Would love to hear your thoughts below!