Walk In Unity, Part 1
Part 1 - THE PLEA FOR UNITY
This is the only chapter in the NT that mentions the word unity (4:3, 13). Paul, using the word one, describes Christian unity in seven ways.
Believers are united in:
× One body, made up of all believers everywhere (rom 12:4, 5; 1 Cor 12:12).
× One Spirit, who dwells in each believer (Rom 8:9, 1 Cor 12:13).
× One hope, which is Christ’s promise to return to take His followers to heaven (1:14; Col 1:27, Titus 2:13).
× One Lord, Jesus Christ, who has redeemed us by His blood (1:7, 1 Cor. 1:13; 1 per. 1:18, 19).
× One faith, once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).
× One baptism, referring to the baptism of the Spirit (Rom 6:3-5; 1 Cor. 12:13).
× One Father, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the heavenly Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Mal. 2:10).
In verse 1 Paul calls the church to remember where we came from and all that the Lord has done for us in Christ. He uses the word “therefore” to call to our minds all that He has taught us thus far in the book of Ephesians. He has been writing about doctrine, precept, and belief. Now, he turns his attention to duty, practice, and behavior.
He mentions in verse 3, and again in verse 13, the idea of “unity.” The word means “agreement.” It simply means that we are to walk together as one in the Lord. Let me just pause here and say that unity is God’s goal for His church.
The book of Ephesians is about God’s grace that reveals itself in our salvation. As a part of that process is the idea of unity. If the Lord is that interested in the unity of the church, then we should be interested in it as well. In verse 3 of our text, we are called to “keep” or “maintain” the unity of the church. I want to spend some time looking into the teaching in these verses. The fact is, we are not always unified. We are not always on the same page. We are not always pulling together for the glory of God. Too often we each have our own agendas that compete against the good of the church. This text is a plea for unity. I want to take these verses and share some challenges I see in them. These verses teach us how to walk together as a redeemed family, the way God intended.
I. THE WORDS OF THIS PLEA
In the NKJV, Paul is quoted saying “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Several words in that verse merit our attention.
· “Endeavoring” - This word means, “hasty, or zealous.” It suggests that we allow nothing to hinder us from speedily striving to secure the unity of the church. It speaks of a holy zeal that demands constant attention.
· “Keep” - This word means, “to guard.” Notice that it does not say “create.” We cannot manufacture unity within the church. We cannot fake unity. We can only protect or guard the unity we already have.
· Paul calls it “the unity of the Spirit.” This phrase reminds us that “the unity, the agreement, the common ground” within the church is not the product of our efforts to make unity. This agreement, this common ground, is that which is produced within us by the Spirit of God.
· We are to maintain this unity in “the bond of peace.” The word “bond” refers to “a band, or that which binds together.” “Peace” speaks of “tranquility or harmony.” The belt that binds the church together in unity is peace. When we are at peace with one another, we are able to “keep the unity of the Spirit.”
II. THE WITNESS OF THIS PLEA
The church has no greater testimony than when we are united in Jesus in spite of our differences. By the same rule, there is no greater slander against the cause of Christ than a church family in which the members are at odds with one another.
Listen to what Jesus said:
· “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another,” John 13:35.
· “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are,” John 17:11.
· “20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; 21 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 hast sent me. 22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: 23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me,” John 17:20-23.
We are a diverse bunch of people. We are different one from another in every way you can imagine. Physical differences, intellectual differences, economic differences and spiritual differences all compete against the unity we are expected to have.
Yet, with all our differences there is common ground. When we came to Jesus, the Holy Spirit took up residence in our hearts.
· “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit,” 1 Cor. 12:13.
· “But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his,” Rom. 8:9.
When He is in you and He is in me, He can cause us to move passed our differences to walk together in unity for the glory of God.
When we are at war one with another, we have lost our testimony with the world. When we walk out of unity, we are telling them that we are no different than they are. Down through the ages the world has formulated treaties, agreements, held conferences and signed accords all in an effort to bring peace. Every single treaty signed by men since the dawn of recorded time has failed. Why? “There is no peace, says the LORD, to the wicked,” Isa. 48:22.
The world cannot find peace because they have no ground for peace. We are to be different! The Spirit of God dwells inside every true believer to guide, direct and cause us to produce the “fruit of the Spirit,” Gal. 5:22-23, which always leads to peace within the church. When we walk in the peace we have been given through the Spirit, we magnify the Lord Jesus and show the world that there is something different about us.
In verse 2 Paul speaks about humility, gentleness, patience, and tolerance. Every one of these spiritual characteristics flows out of genuine love one for another. Every one of them comes from the presence of the Holy Spirit within our hearts. We will flesh those thoughts out in greater detail over the next few weeks. For now, we need to know that God’s will for His people is that we walk in unity, all pulling the same way, for the glory of the same God.
III. THE WISDOM IN THIS PLEA
Walking in unity does not mean that we always have the same ideas about the same issues. We may have differences of opinion from time to time. That is both healthy and good. There needs to be a diversity of thought and understanding that allows every single person to think and listen to the Holy Spirit.
· Walking in unity does not means that we will always believe exactly the same about every single issue where doctrine is concerned.
· It does not mean that we lose our individualism when we are saved.
· It does mean that we are marked by a common purpose and led by a common Savior.
· It does mean that when the Lord gives us His clear direction, we put aside our personal opinions and walk together for the glory of God and the good of the Gospel.
· It does mean that the unity of the church is more important than me getting my way or yours.
· It does mean that the unity of the church always comes ahead of my personal agenda.
· It does mean that the unity of the church comes before my feelings.
Nothing shows the world that we are different from them in our walk any more than our being different in this specific area. When they see us at odds, we can forget the Gospel, because we will not reach them for Jesus. But, when they see us walking in unity, as it is manifested in true humility, gentleness toward one another, patient endurance of one another and loving tolerance for our differences, it will do more to reach the world than any outreach program ever devised by man. Our unity says that we are real! They may reject our truth, but they will not be able to get passed our unity.
By the way, it is wrong for there to be a division between you and me just because we disagree about some point of doctrine. It is wrong for us to allow our personal opinions and preferences to drive wedges between us. It is wrong for me to hold so sternly to my views, and my rights that I damage the church of the living God.
As a church we have seen our share of disunity over the past few years. With a few exceptions, most of that has gone away. However, the scars of that turmoil are still visible. Some people who used to be here are no longer with us. The church has suffered financially. We have also suffered spiritually and emotionally. Yet, I am still saved. How about you?
If we are saved, the Holy Spirit lives within both you and me. If we allow Him to fill us with His presence and power, He will bring us to a place of absolute unity of purpose for the glory of God. When He does, we will see the Lord work around here in ways we could never imagine.
We need to gather as a church and ask the Lord to forgive us for our part in the disunity of the past.
· If we have offended a fellow believer, and we are aware of that, we need to make it right.
“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” Matt. 5:23-24.
· If we have been offended by another, we need to let it go and forgive those who have offended us.
“Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matt. 18:21-22.