Our school theme this year is unity. From board and administrative meetings, to chapels and small groups — administrators, teachers, staff, and students are all thinking and talking about what it means to be united.
Ephesians four has understandably come up more than once. Here’s what Paul says in verses one through six, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”
In this ever divided world we inhabit, I want you to remember this:
We are united.
Notice our call from Paul is not to unite, as if from scratch, but to “keep the unity.” Much of the Christian life has this odd tension between what Christ has already done, and what will be done. The same goes for unity.
In college, I had a professor who often told his kids, “You are a child of God. Live like it.” He was pointing out to them that God has already made you one of his own. In a very real way, the work is already done, and yet there is still more work to do. God gave us a new identity; we can now live it out.
Paul is saying, in short, “You are united. Live like it.”
But what does that look like? He tells us. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Unity is achieved through the laying down of our desires; through true peacemaking; through acknowledging the brokenness in us all and the power in Christ working through us.
It may not look like it, but even through our pushing and pulling and straining to divide, the Church is still unified in Christ. He pulls us together, helps us grow, and is continuing to work through us, even in our weakness.
Cyprian of Carthage, a Christian writer from the third century said this, “The [church] is one, and each [individual member] has a part in the whole. The Church is one, and by her fertility she has extended by degree into many. In the same way, the sun has many rays, but a single light; a tree has many branches but a single trunk resting on a deep root; and many streams flow out from a single source. However many may spread out from the source, it retains its unity. Cut off a ray from the orb of the sun; the unity of light cannot be divided.”
We’re spread throughout the world. We have different interests, causes, ethnicities, and struggles — we even live on different continents — but in Christ, we cannot be divided. It’s our job to live that unity through our love of one another. As Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Each and every Christian, no matter their political party, their race, their denomination — no matter where they’re from — love them. That’s unity.