2nd August 2009 (Trinity 8)
The passage in Ephesians begins with a plea to ‘live a life worthy of the call you have received.’ Our call is to close fellowship with God and with each other, and to a new creation where everything is brought together under Christ, and all is in harmony with God. While our call is to share in a glorious future, it also affects the present – we are on our way, and God’s power is already at work in us. The harmony and fellowship of the future is something we can begin to experience here and now. More than that, it is something we need actively to seek here and now, and to do all in our power to bring about.
Paul therefore begins with a plea for us to do all we can to promote unity and harmony within the Christian family. It is not easy; we need to be humble, gentle, patient and forbearing! We need also to recognise that we are all different: the unity is not that of sugar lump in which every part is the same, but that of a living human body in which each part is different and important. Paul talks about some of those differences: God has given the church different leaders, each with particular gifts, with the intention that they work together to equip the members of the church for ‘works of service’. The members themselves are different, and may do a variety of works of service in different situations; but together they teach and encourage and correct one another, building each other up so that the whole body of Christians grows.
That is the ultimate aim – to grow to ‘unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.’ That fulfilment will only be fully realised in the new creation; but growth towards it has to happen now, and a great deal of progress can and should be made even these days. We must not be content with spiritual infancy.
The road to growth is simple yet profound: speaking the truth in love. Too often people love but are afraid to tell the truth for fear of putting people off; or they tell it as it is, with little love. Love without truth limits growth, truth without love brings disunity. We need both – and we all need to be ready to offer as well as receive both. Every member of the body needs to play their part; then the body of Christ will grow.
1) How important is it for every member of the Church to play their part? How can it happen?
2) What will church unity look like?