The Key to Unity
When someone comes to Christ by faith, the transformation of their identity is comprehensive. In the language Paul employs in Ephesians 2, the dead sinner is now alive in Christ; the child of wrath becomes a child of God. But the new identity is not merely individual. We are not each of us alone in Christ; we are in Him with all of God’s people. This is why Paul, in Ephesians 2, moves from our individual experience of grace to the corporate work that God’s grace accomplishes. Paul tells us, “You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (v 19). The “one new man” (v 15) that Christ is making is gloriously crowded with fellow heirs of grace. This is not to say that our individual human identity becomes irrelevant. Our background and our makeup—our sex, ethnicity, and personal history—are not obliterated in Christ. We are who we are, made in God’s image, fashioned according to His purposes. But what unifies us in Christ—our union with Christ—transcends everything else.
We must beware the temptation to forget the reason for our unity. No one is immune from turning elements of their identity into barriers—barriers of status, of color, of class, of personality type, or personal preferences. As Christians, we must be prepared to acknowledge how easy it is to get this wrong. We must be prepared, if we find ourselves guilty of such wrong, to repent from and grieve over that which displeases God.
The key to Christian unity is the gospel. Paul recognized that only God can soften hard hearts, only God can open blind eyes, and only God can bring disparate people together and form something truly, gloriously united. God is making “one new man,” and He is making that new man in His church. In Christ, God is building a “holy temple” (Ephesians 2:21) that is “being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” Partiality based on race, class, or status has no place in the place where God dwells by His Spirit. One day you will experience the fullness of your union with Christ and His people for eternity; but that can, and should, begin now. You have the privilege of fostering that unity today in the way you use your time and in the way you think of, pray for, and speak to your brothers and sisters in your church.
We are building day by day,
As the moments glide away,
Our temple, which the world may not see;
Every victory won by grace
Will be sure to find its place
In our building for eternity.
The Way of Love
1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,1 but have not love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;2 6it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
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