“I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6)
THOUGHTS ON UNITY
In these opening verses of Chapter 4 in Ephesians, there is an emphasis on unity - unity within the body of Christ. There are references to “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”, “one body and one Spirit”, “the one hope of your calling”, “one Lord”, “one faith”, “one baptism”, “one God and Father of all”. I am reminded of the beginning of the liturgy of Holy Baptism in the Episcopal Church, when the celebrant and people do a sort of call and response, using these words from Ephesians:
Celebrant: There is one Body and one Spirit;
People: There is one hope in God’s call to us;
Celebrant: One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism;
People: One God and Father of all. (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 299)
In other words, from the very beginning of the baptismal liturgy, we are being reminded that we are all in this together - we are all one in the Spirit, one in Christ, one in God. We are one body. We are diverse individuals, but in this diversity, there is unity.
Another way to say this might be that we have way more in common than we do things that divide us.
And yet, we are a nation... perhaps we are a world... that likes to focus on the differences, and likes to put things in dualistic, either/or terms: I-you, we-they, Democrat-Republican, American-_________ (put every other nationality in the blank), black-white, rich-poor, white collar-blue collar, boomer-millennial, Jew-Gentile, Christian-Muslim, Catholic-Protestant, southern-northern, citizen-immigrant, East Coast-West Coast, dog person-cat person.... and on and on it goes.
Also in Ephesians we read: “For he [Christ] is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups [Jew and Gentile] into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.” (Ephesians 2:14)
Again, the emphasis is on unity. Christ came to break down any and every wall that has been built between you and any other individual or group. And guess what? We are the ones who have erected those walls! And, we so much want to keep them there, or to build them back after Christ tears them down.
The author of Ephesians is saying that the key to claiming and living into this unity is to hang on to our common bond in Christ, first and foremost. And then, we must practice humility... gentleness... patience... bearing with one another in love... maintaining every effort to live in the unity of the Spirit, in the bond of peace.
I wonder: Whenever we are tempted to start thinking (or ranting and raving), “You ____ ! They _____! I don’t see it that way! We see it differently!” - perhaps we do see it differently, AND... are we willing to step back long enough to entertain the truth that we are one Body and one Spirit, sharing the one hope in God’s call to us, with one Lord, one Faith (wonder about that for a while!), one Baptism (muse on that, too!), worshiping and serving one God, who is God... of.... ALL.
Wouldn’t the world be a very different place if we could shift our “preset” button to “How are we one?”, as opposed to “How are we different?” or “How are you wrong?”
Let’s try moving in that direction.