JohnSWilson3 Blog


“…being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit…”
December 12, 2010, 2:54 pm
Filed under: P Letter to the Ephesians

I have to say that as I read Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus I am struck by the fact that as Christ moves him to write Paul gets excited about something and goes down one line of thought and often ending with a prayer and then goes back to what he was sharing. As I read chapter 3 and then start reading chapter 4 I get that same sense. Paul ends chapter 3 with an incredibly wonderful truth about Christ and then goes back to another thought to finish what he was saying. I guess we can be like that as well! 🙂

In chapter 4 Paul seems to reflect back to what he was saying in chapter 2 and 3 about “the mystery of Christ” and brings it to it’s practical conclusion in the body of Christ. Christ’s purpose for coming “was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” And this “one new man,” “this one body,” “the family of God,” “the church” is meant to express “the manifold wisdom of God…to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.” But this expression can only be manifested by Christ in us. He must strengthen us “with power through his Spirit in (our) inner being.” He must empower us “together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” This expression, is Christ, “the measure of all the fullness of God.” The rest of the letter describes the practical life of the body of Christ to be this expression of His life. It is “to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”

This “worthy walk” of life in Christ is urged by Paul. It sounds very similar to Paul’s use of words from Romans 12. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.” The worthy walk is about sacrifice. Sacrifice of self. Paul told the Roman Christians to “not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you…love must be sincere.” So to the church in Ephesus he says “with all humility and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.” How difficult it is in the flesh to be humble, gentle, and patient with those who are still showing the old man, learning to put off the “old man.” We are too quick to judge and condemn others and in fact we are actually not living by Christ but living by the “old man” as well. No wonder Paul warned the churches in Galatia that if the body lived together by the flesh instead of by the Spirit they might “become conceited, provoking and envying one another.” If Christ is in us and we are living by His life then He will express “all humility and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love” in us. I am reminded of James letter to the scattered Christians from Jerusalem about how they had learned Christ together. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word (logos) (Christ Himself) planted in you, which can save you.” I am reminded of the analogy of sandpaper. As sandpaper helps to smooth out the rough edges of something, so to the body when we are learning to put off the old man together and put on Christ, we will be kind of like sandpaper to each other, smoothing out the rough edges, the old man, so that Christ’s life can shine through one another. But sanding doesn’t feel very good on the flesh. We lengthen the process of Christ expressing His life in us when we do not learn this fact. “In him the whole building is fitted together,” this fitting is learning Christ together.

It seems Christ Himself said similar words when He said, “If anyone would come after me he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” As Paul told the church in Philippi: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” How we need a new perspective of what it means to follow Christ, a new mindset. Setting “our hearts on things above” is seeing things from Christ’s perspective. “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is you life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Christ lives in each of us and wants to dwell in our midst, to have a place of rest, to do so He must be Head of His body, it is “in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” When we learn Christ together, keeping Him as head of His body, living by His life, he will “strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being” and we will “know Him better” and “his great love for us!” Will we bear with one another in love as we each learn to put off the old man and put on Christ, the New Man? His life is expressed in humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with each other, and love, in fact it is all about His love.

This is not the end of the matter though. This first part of chapter 4 is one long sentence (typical of Paul) who shows that bearing with one another in love is not what we are after! In most translations there is a period after the word “love.” Paul didn’t end it with a period. He says: “with all humility and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love, being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; one body and one Spirit, as also you were called in one hope of the calling of you; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, the over all and through all and in all.” It is all about the expression of Christ, making known “the manifold wisdom of God” by the “one new man out of the two, thus making peace.” It is about keeping “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Christ is Peace, and is our peace! When we live by His life of peace there is unity. When we walk by Christ together He will display humility, gentleness, patience, enabling us to bear “with one another in love.” This is “being rooted and established in love” and having “power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge” and we will “be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” This doesn’t happen at a “worship service” or a “Sunday School” or some other event or program where Christ is not head, it happens in real life, in relationships, face to face community where everyone participates, where Christ is the reality of life together in His body. There is only one new man. There is only “one body and one Spirit,” do we not realize we are all members of one body, Christ Himself? Christ is not divided! There is only “one God and Father of all, the over all and through all and in all!”

Let us be “eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” and live by our indwelling Lord, displaying humility, gentleness, patience with each other, bearing with each other by Christ’s love as we learn to put on Christ together. For faith and love displayed to the brethren “spring from the hope” that we have in Christ, who is our life. Remember what our Lord said: “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” Let us be “eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” that bond is Christ Himself!

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