“With all humility and gentleness… maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (from Ephesians 4:2-3)
Sometimes, when we need something, it helps to know that we already have it.
Yesterday, we talked about the vital importance of Christian unity – how it is a direct reflection of God Himself (either for bad… or good!).
But even if we are convinced that unity is really important (maybe the most important thing to God, for His people) we still have massive doubts that it could ever happen. Our differences are REAL differences. Our beliefs are too diverse. Our distrust just too severe.
In today’s church environment, there is just no way to become unified again.
Let me respond to that very prevalent feeling, this way…
Suppose I were very poor and you befriended me. You just happen to be very wealthy. For this reason, you decide that you want to do something about my poverty… so you set up a bank account in my name and place a million dollars in that account (apparently your wealth is only surpassed by your generosity!)
But then, months later, we cross each other’s path and I am still disheveled and poor. Come to find out, I never used the money you so generously put in my account, but continued to live in my meager means. I had already received what I needed to alleviate my situation – I just needed to access it.
That is exactly the apostle’s point in our verse for the day… we don’t have to create unity – we just have to “access” what is already there.
Just as Jesus purchased our freedom from our sins… His sacrificial death also broke down every dividing wall that separates us IN Him (Ephesians 2:14). If you know Jesus (if you have received Him and accepted what He has done for you) YOU are a member of His Family. And so is everyone who has made that same commitment.
There is ONLY one Family of God… just as there is only one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. Being IN the Family makes us ALL one Family.
We don’t have to create unity… it has already been provided – through Jesus’ work.
If this is true (and it is!) then the only thing we can do is destroy unity by our attitudes and preconceptions of one another. There is NO division in Christ… unless we allow divisive things to come between us! It really all comes down to… a matter of choice.
Yes, we have differences (in theology, in style, in how we pray, in what we emphasize) but we also have Christ.
And Christ IS always greater than all our differences.
We also have a “secret weapon.” We each have the Holy Spirit of the Living God living within us – to lead us, guide us, and empower us to do God-type of things. And to enable us to love even as God Himself loves us.
What everything comes down to is this… our disunity is just a lack of God’s kind of love in our hearts – which tells us that we have an even greater problem than not getting along.
John was inspired to put it this way:
When we do not love our brothers… how can we really love God… and how can we possibly love the people in this world that God dearly loves.
That’s the bad news… here’s the good: in all our failings we are only a heartfelt repentance away from restoration back to what God has provided for us.
Jesus came and tore down every dividing wall… creating unity. In our hearts (and choices!) we just have to preserve what He has already provided.