In Ephesians 4 and 5, Paul gives several instructions on how believers are to “walk”. Over the next four days, we will be publishing posts on the four ways in which Paul exhorts the Ephesians to walk.
(Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16) “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.”
Paul is talking here about the unity and the interdependency of believers – one body, many parts. And this is not the only time that Paul addresses unity in his epistles. In Romans 15:5-6, Paul writes: “5 Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, 6 that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
He writes again in Philippians 2:1-4: “2 Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2 fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Do you see the common theme in those two passages? Paul says we are to be like-minded. But it is not just any mind that we are to unite around – being “like-minded” does not always mean being “right-minded”. He goes on to say, “5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
Paul says that Jesus had to become nothing, to humble Himself. So we likewise should set aside our own ambitions and our own pleasure in service to our brothers and sisters in Christ and to a lost and dying world.
Jesus prayed for our unity in His High Priestly Prayer in John 17:21-23: “21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. 22 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one…”
This is the same kind of unity Paul was talking about – being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Jesus prays for that very thing – that as He is in God and God is in Him, that we would be one with Them, one body with many parts all serving the head, which is Christ Jesus.
We can’t have that kind of unity when we are ruled by selfishness and sinful desire. Look around you at the world in which we live – political bickering, greed, materialism, entitlement, me, me, me. But when we are like-minded and that mind is the mind of Christ, when we are set apart from that focus on self and refocused on the things of God, when each of us looks to the needs of the other, then we can be one with each other and one with Christ – uniting to serve God and serve others.
Imagine that you are going to a symphony. This concert features a group of the finest musicians ever assembled – each performer a master of his or her instrument. But imagine if each of those instrumentalists plays whatever he wants at whatever tempo is pleasing to him. The dissonance, the clash, the racket would be unbearable. It would sound like a first grade music class. But under the direction of the Conductor, the orchestra can produce music so stirring that it moves the listeners in the deepest parts of their souls. Christ desires that we be one, working together in beautiful symphony under the direction of the Holy Spirit.
Walk in unity – serving one another and serving God together.
~ Matt Kinnell
NHIM Board Chairman