Ephesians 4:4b-6 Steps to unity and harmony
Just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call — 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Paul in the previous passage talks about the reasons why members of God’s community must be united. What can believers do to work towards greater unity within the church? Paul talks about four elements: One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One Father of all. If members are to put God as Lord, to persevere towards God’s calling in faith, to be reminded of their identity in baptism and to be accountable to the Father in everything they do, the church will grow in unity.
Just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call.
Believers are adopted as members under God’s household with one calling: to restore to the earth the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19), which is to establish God’s Kingdom on earth. Having said that, Paul urges believers to make the calling of the church the prime purpose of their life and to forsake petty personal agendas that threaten to derail this calling. The church serves to establish God’s values system and justice on the earth, and to break the curses of sin and death.
One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
Paul proceeds to substantiate his point by drawing upon their newfound identity as children of God. “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” serves to reinforce the point that the believer is now a new man and no longer under the bondage of destructive habits, desires and misplaced allegiance.
One Lord – Unless believers place God as Lord of their life, there is no unity within the church. Homogeneity in life stage, interest, culture, and need does not unite the church under God’s agenda unless members make God the Lord of every area of their life.
One faith – Faith refers to the virtue of perseverance towards the ideals of God. As believers are saved by faith (Ephesians 2:8), which means the steadfast acknowledgment of God as Lord where believers persist in the tasks that God has entrusted to the church.
One baptism – Baptism is the seal of the believer’s covenant with God as his Lord and Master. Hence, baptism can be seen as the ritual of initiation into God’s Kingdom and having a new identity. As they have been baptized into the Kingdom, Paul reminds believers of their obligation to live out God’s kingdom values and purposes.
One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Paul in summary reinforces the point that believers’ ultimate allegiance and accountability is to God who is the Father of all. What would the Father say to us when we see Him? By living in unity of vision and in peace with one another as brothers, we approve ourselves as sons.
1. God’s blessings and salvation is ordained for the community and not so much as for the individual. Unless individual believers identify themselves as part of the community, they may not experience God’s fullness in their lives. Paul says, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism”; “… you (plural) may be filled with the fullness of God.”; “… to him be glory in the church.”; “… He gave the Apostles, the prophets… for building up of the body of Christ.” Psalms 133 says, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! … For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.” What does it mean for believers to identify themselves as part of a community? Believers must put the interests of others before their own; they must rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep; they must honor the different abilities and contributions of others and work with them towards a common goal. Many believers attend church services but remain as individuals having little involvement in the lives of fellow believers.
2. Perfection within the community is not defined by its efficiency in accomplishing tasks, or by the degree of precision in its teachings, or by its moral achievements, or by her ability to attract crowds in worship services, but by her ability to transform and integrate even the vilest of sinners into God’s family. The call of the church is to regenerate hearts towards the call through grace: to the one hope that belongs to your call. The Jews strive to be perfect by being precise in the teachings of the Law but has neither truth nor grace. They love the sight of large crowds but they could not love the sinner. However, Christ is a friend of sinners and tax collectors; He did not have a large church, only a few disciples who have neither wit nor moral standing, but a simple desire to follow Him even unto death.
1. Do you spend time praying for the church and for others? Pray that the church may be united in the calling of Christ and she will experience more and more of God’s blessings.
2. What do you value most in your church? How do you think the church should grow to become?
Dear Lord, use me to be a uniting factor in my church. I love my church because You have predestined and place me in it. Anoint my church with revelations of truth leading to prosperous living. Send more family members into the church so that we could do more charitable works in the community. Cause my church to be more united and passionate towards Your kingdom’s work. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.