Unity of the Spirit
“1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” Ephesians 4:1-6
It would behoove us all to take a lot more time examining the nature of our calling in Christ, before we take action toward others. I like the picture above, showing the impression of infinity of universe, with one single person’s footsteps heading in that direction. It would be easy for one to keep a proper focus of ego if one could continually look at it. To me, it depicts exactly what Paul told us about in chapter three concerning the depths of Jesus Christ and now, in the beginning of chapter four, it depicts the richness and depth of our calling. Paul thought it so important that he used the word “implore” or “urge”. He was not just wishing for the Ephesians to get this, he expected it. He wanted them to understand the eternal nature of our calling, and that we should reflect that nature now, in the present life.
We are given three great virtues that describe our behavior in this calling. They are humility, gentleness, and patience. Paul just executed my male ego right there! Yet, those three attributes are the crowning jewels of relational behavior. James tells us to “Humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God’, (James5) Jesus preached, (Matthew 5), in the sermon on the mount that the meek or gentle would inherit the earth. In addition, patience is found in the fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Ga 5). What is notable is the relationship of these three virtues to the action word attached to them: the word tolerance. In tolerance is to be found humility, gentleness, and patience. There is no argument to be had here, tolerance is implored and described in every apostolic sense.
When we are successful at tolerance, then we can move on the rest of the passage, unity. Until perfect tolerance for all is reached, there cannot be true unity, which is our goal. I love the Greek rendering of this passage, because the words “There is” are not in the original. The text literally says, “One Body, One Spirit.” Paul is making it imperative. It is simply a fact in God’s eyes. One body, one spirit. So, there is only one attitude for us to really adapt, and that is tolerance.
The other phrase that I love in this passage is “the bond of peace.” The way we can keep the unity of the Spirit, once we really get there is to bond in the peace we enjoy. Bonding in the sense of blending of heart and soul, we enter into the covenant relationship that God intends for us.
If you have not noticed the pattern before, From Genesis to the New Testament, God accomplished His dealings with humanity thru establishing covenants. Each on was specific and was bound by some ritual or sacrifice. Now under the ultimate sacrifice, the cross of Jesus Christ, we are under the New and everlasting covenant of His blood, and are bound to Him and each other.
As we look to the New Year, and see each other, I pray that we will see our calling for one another in the light of that covenant and in the depths that the artist is depicting in the painting called “Eternity”. May God truly help us to walk worthy of our calling.