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.
But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.”
(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) So, Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (New International Version)
Unity is more than a good idea or something nice to aspire to. It’s absolutely necessary.
The whole unity thing is quite important to God. It isn’t just an ancillary or side issue to the real work of the church and the Christian life; it is very much at the center of Christianity.
Christians have been fashioned through the Holy Spirit into a single harmonious religious community of redeemed people, called to exemplify a counter-cultural presence in the world.
There is a solid theological reason for this: God is one. Just as the triune God exists as one deity in three persons, so the church is to reflect God’s image through its unified oneness.
Although unity has been accomplished through the finished work of Jesus on the cross, the practical implications must be daily worked out. This is why we are to strive, or to put significant effort, into realizing and maintaining the unity we possess.
Simply getting along but harboring animosity toward another is not unity. Just because two people are not at each other’s throats doesn’t mean there is peaceful unity. Unity occurs when the Body of Christ works together in its diverse gifts toward a common goal of knowing Christ and making him known.
When Jesus ascended to heaven, ten days later the Day of Pentecost happened. The Holy Spirit came upon the small band of believers and the church became a full-fledged phenomenon, growing and expanding.
The gracious gifts of the Spirit are given to each and every Christian so that we all may grow and be strengthened in love. Each gifting might be different from person to person, but every one of them is meant to be used in love for the benefit of the entire church.
The Body of Christ, the Church, will experience disunity, weakness, and ineffectiveness if they don’t have any bones or skeleton. It might look like a church – yet will not be able to do any good in the world.
It is quite necessary that every individual Christian learn what their spiritual gift(s) are, then use them in love to build up the Body. This is the God ordained means of realizing a mature, unified, and functionally healthy group.
Toward that end, it is good for us all to ask ourselves the following questions and discover the answers:
- What is my passion and desire for Christ’s Church?
- What issues stir up my emotions?
- What group of people do I feel most attracted or compelled to reach with the love of Christ?
- What area of my faith community or volunteer organization do I most want to influence?
- Are there people I see and “get” but others seem to ignore or misunderstand?
- How will I step out in faith?
- How will I speak and serve as a faithful believer?
May your journey be blessed, and your pilgrimage of faith be rewarded.
Blessed Holy Trinity, the God whom I serve, may your visible church on this earth be unified and one as you are One. I pray our unity of love and purpose will transform individuals, churches, organizations, systems, and the entire world to the glory of Father, Son, and Spirit.
Loving God, you have graced me with spiritual gifts for the sake of Jesus Christ. Use me for the gracious strengthening of the Church, and for positive influence in the world. Amen.