Ephesians 4:3-4a We love because we are family
3 Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit.
Having understood in the previous passage that unity and mutual trust is the bedrock leading to a prosperous community. Paul calls the church to maintain unity and peace at all cost and at all times. Then he gives the fundamental reasons why members of God’s community must be united in the bond of peace: We love because we are family.
Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Here, Paul surfaces a culture that is critical to the operations of the Spirit: unity and peace. Without unity and peace, the Spirit is grieved giving way to the works of the flesh. Unity is a state where members possess the same life goal and living for the purposes of God. For example, some churches make blessing of members the chief aim. Hence, her members would seek the God’s blessing as their purpose of attending worship services. Yet for some churches, their vision is to become a blessing to others and to serve the community through charitable works. Therefore, in order for a church to become effective, she must continue to reinforce the vision of Christ-centered living among her members through sermons and discipleship.
As unity relates to the similarity of vision among members, peace relates to the bond of their relationship among members. As members come from differing cultural, social, and religious backgrounds, what binds members together is the one body and one Spirit of Christ. Hence, believers must make a distinction between the nature of their bonds within the church and those that are outside. The bonds outside the church are based on friendship at a socio and human level. But the bonds inside the church are formed and appointed by God. We can choose our friends, but we cannot choose our family members. Both our biological family or spiritual family (the church) are appointed by God.
Therefore, in order for the church to live in divine abundance, unity and peace must be maintained at all cost. People must sacrifice their own agenda for the vision of Christ, they must forsake their rights in exchange for peace with one another.
There is one body and one Spirit
Here, Paul gives two reasons why believers must be united in vision and be at peace with one another. The death of Christ’s body on the cross and His resurrection through the Spirit bind believers into one family under God.
The first reason: believers are united through the body of Christ. Paul says “and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” (Ephesians 2:16). The day we seal the covenant of reconciliation with God calling Him Father, we consequently seal our relationship with other believers as brothers and sisters. As far as relationships in church goes: that is ground zero. Salvation does not only reconcile us to God through Christ’s blood, it makes fellow believers blood brothers. Christ Himself recognizes believers as brothers, “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them (believers) brothers.” (Hebrews 2:11). Therefore, the first reason why believers are united as brothers stands on the blood covenant of Christ; one cannot acknowledge God as Father without recognizing His other children as brothers.
The second reason: believers are filled with the Spirit of sonship. Paul says, “you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” (Romans 8:15-16). The operations of Spirit include creating in us the witness within our spirit that fellow believers are brothers and sisters. Hence, we must not grieve the Spirit by alienating other believers because of differences of opinion and conflict of interests. The workings of the Spirit draw believers together based on the premise that we are brothers and sisters because of one body of Christ.
1. The reason why we must forgive and reconcile with fellow believers is because we are family. Hence, we must accept that there will always be differences of opinions and conflicts that will test the strength of our bond. The bonds especially within a local church are divine in nature and written in Christ’s blood. If it is possible, never to expel a member out of the church but endeavor to resolve the conflict by finding a common ground through regeneration of the heart. Acceptance founded on love based on a divine relationship is powerful; it is able to regenerate even the hardest hearts.
2. Unity within a church is as strong as the bond of individual believers with God. As the bonds within a church is spiritual in nature, unless believers remain Spirit-filled, there will be no harmony. Hence, a Spirit-filled church is also a united church with a strong familial culture. By emphasizing and developing each member’s walk with God through discipleship, we can build a united church that accomplishes God’s calling.
1. Is there anyone within the church that you could not accept and would avoid or even despise? Change yourself by accepting them as brothers/sister, you may be one step closer to seeing a change in them.
2. Is your relationship with God secure? Are you in unity with Him? Express that unity by reading the word daily and through prayer. As each believer endeavors to be united with God, the church will naturally be united with one another.
Dear Lord, I ask You to do a work first within me. Help me to understand my own weaknesses and to work on them. Cause me to walk closer to You and be united with Your goals and passions. Use me to love and accept all that is within the Your household. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.