From the prayer in John chapter seventeen we see how passionate our Lord is concerning the unity of his people. Anyone who truly know the Lord would also be greatly concerned about the unity of the Church. We could see this concern reflected in Paul as he pen down what we have as the book of Ephesians chapter four. In this article we would look very closely at the epistle to the church in Ephesus, we want to properly understand what Paul was trying to say in this passage of scripture.
"Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace." (Eph 4:1-3).
Here we see Paul begging the people to make every effort to ensure unity in their midst. Yes these people are from different backgrounds, and they may have faults but this faults should not affect their unity. Rather they should find a way around it in the name of love, just so there can remain united. If you truly loves someone you will over look the person faults, you will not run away from the person because of the fault. We are to leave together in unity despite our faults, just because someone is different from you doesn't mean he is not a Christian. It is pride that makes one thing that everybody must be like him or be condemned. Humble yourself, be gentle and embrace the people of God despite their faults. Be patient with those who are growing, the truth is that we are all still growing. So be patient, do not get irritated by the immaturity of a fellow brethren, let love constrain you.
"For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, in all, and living through all." (Eph 4:4-6).
In the battle for unity and harmony, Paul puts further the bases of our unity. We must be united on which bases? On the bases of denomination? On the bases of pastor? On the bases of nationality? No, a big NO. Rather, we must be united because we are one body, we are all pursuing one goal, we have one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one God and Father. We must be united because this is the reality in Christ, it is who we are. Freedom is freely being who you are, and we are one body. We are a unit, it is who we are, let us be free. Do not allow anything make you become what you are not, that is slavery. You must take your freedom and yield to the unity in Christ. Look inside of yourself, there is something in you that wants to enjoy unity with the rest of the body of Christ, and not just with some segment in the body. You want to go anywhere and enjoy fellowship with any Christian, it is how you are designed in Christ. So be free, freely express yourself, you don't need to tame that desire for unity, express it freely.
"However, he has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ. That is why the Scriptures say, “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.” Notice that it says “he ascended.” This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world. And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself. Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do the work of the ministry, and to build up the church, the body of Christ." (Eph 4:7-12).
Although we are one but we have different gifts, why do we have different gifts, he went further to explain. Christ has a mission on earth, he was given a ministry and he came, dead and resurrected in order to fulfill this ministry. What is this special ministry given to him by the Father? He descended and ascended "so that he might fill the entire universe with himself". His special ministry is to fill all things with himself.
"that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself." (Eph 1:20-23).
This scripture is saying that God raised Jesus from the dead, seated him with Himself far above everything, putting everything under his authority, why? For the benefit of the Church, the very instrument that he would use to fill all things with himself. Jesus came to earth, went through all that, and ascend to heaven, just so that he can, through the Church, fill all things with himself. The Church is the vessel through which he is to fulfill this special ministry. But first the Church must grow in unity and maturity in order "to do the work of the ministry" (Eph 4:11). Without harmony the Church cannot work together to fulfill this ministry. No community can work together to fulfill a goal without harmony. There must be harmony in the body or else Christ will fail in fulfilling his ministry. Hence, Christ has give gifts of special ministers. These ministers are gifts to the Church, to enable the Church do the work of the ministry. The ministers were sent for no other purpose but to enable unity and harmony in the Church.
Look at the church today, and look at our so called ministers, are they truly uniting us. Look at them dragging for sheep, each running away with a segment of the people, dividing the body into many pieces. Who will save us now, the very ones sent to unite us are tearing us apart. This is not what the Lord intended, how would he fulfill his ministry now. The pastors, prophets and the rest, they are not sent to help you live a happy Christian life. They were not given to help you prosper and live happily, rather they were sent so that you can freely express that unity in Christ. Their purpose is to help you grow into Christ and be mature for the sake of the ministry.
"Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love." (Eph 4:14-16).
We are to grow beyond immaturity where there is all kinds of confusion and recklessness. The ministers were given so that we would not be running up and down in confusion, but with focus and maturity doing the work of the ministry. Look at us, so divided, so confuse, how can we achieve anything this way. The devil will not let us be united, we would not have us working in harmony for our Lord. This is where the battle line is drawn, the Lord must have a united people working in harmony to fulfill his ministry. We must therefore yield to the Lord and fight vigorously for this unity.
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