Wednesday, February 29, 2012

One in Christ

This week our GMG group has started the fourth chapter of Ephesians and we are all over one of, if not the, main message Paul is trying to convey to the church. 

“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”  Ephesians 4:4-6.
One body
One Spirit
One hope
One Lord
One Faith
One Baptism
One God and Father

See a pattern?  Paul is telling them to lay aside their differences. Because of Christ they are now ALL one!    We can have peace and unity through Christ.  His blood made us ALL one! 

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28

“Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.”  Colossians 3:11

Christ himself even prayed for unity in the church:

"That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us:  that the world may believe that thou has sent me.”  John 17:21
So Christ died for it, Paul was thrown in prison for it but we still struggle to live in it.   We may blame it on others and the words they say or things they do.  But is it really them or is it us?  Paul gives us some guidelines and characteristics we should live by to help us live in unity:

“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with long suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  Ephesians 4:1-3
First of all he tells us to walk worthy of being a Christian. In other words walk like Christ.   Then he gives us some specific characteristics:  lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, and forbearance.  Here’s a little on what Matthew Henry says on each of these in his commentary:

Lowliness – The opposite of pride, humbleness.  “By pride comes contention, by humbleness comes love.”

Meekness – not provoking others, not easily provoked or offended; showing patience and humility, submissive

Long Suffering – patient bearing of injuries, without seeking revenge

Forbearing One Another  - Loving them despite their faults as Christ has loved and forgiven us

That’s a lot to live up to and look at our own lives before we start blaming someone else!  If we truly walked like Christ, had these characteristics and focused on what unites us not divides us then we’d find ourselves dwelling together in unity.  

If you’re attending a church regularly then I’m afraid to say that I can just about guarantee there will come a time when someone is going to say something that’s going to hurt your pride or offend you.  I know they have me before.   The difference comes with what we are going to do about it.  Our first instinct is to lash back, hold a grudge, or just pack up our bags and head to the house!  When really what Paul is telling us here is that it’s often our own selfish pride that causes the confusion and discord.  Chances are the person who said or did something did not mean to intentionally offend us but because of our own selfish pride we were easily provoked and took it that way. 

I hope the next time this happens to me I can evaluate my own life and respond as Christ would.  Focus on the things that unites us not divides us!  If necessary, give the other person grace, forgiveness, love and prayer just as Christ would.  We can accomplish SO much more when we are working together for Christ as one!  After all,
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!”  Psalm 133:1

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