Jump Start # 2803
Ephesians 4:3 “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
Our verse today is an action statement. It is something that the Lord wants us to do. This action is about how we interact and treat others. I’ve never heard of a congregation warning or disciplining someone because they were not very “diligent” about preserving the unity. It seems like we are patient and do a lot of tolerating of expressing each other’s opinions. We tend to allow the envelope to be pushed outward while not doing much about working to keep us all together. It is sad to hear of congregations who have divided over the wearing of a mask. It’s only a mask. If we can’t get along with masks, what in the world would we have done had we lived in the times of Romans 14. Meats sacrificed to idols had much more at stake than the wearing of a mask. I loved how one church dealt with this by saying, ‘wearing a mask will not get you to Heaven. Not wearing a mask will not get you to Heaven. But the way you treat those who differ with you may keep you out of Heaven.’ Well said.
Some thoughts here:
First although this was addressed to the Ephesian church, the application of this was personal and individual. Each person had to be diligent. Each person had to want unity. Each person had to do all they could to keep the unity. The preacher can preach a mighty fine lesson on these verses, but if I roll my eyes and look down my nose at those who are doing things differently than I am, those preached words fall empty and useless. The preserving of the unity isn’t the job of the preacher, nor even the shepherds. Tension in the flock causes stress among the sheep. Our selfish spirits can ruin all the good that a congregation is trying to do.
Second, the preserving the unity wasn’t an idealistic dream that was unreachable. Not at all. The Corinthians were told to be of one mind. The Romans, one voice. The Philippians were told to maintain the same love, being united in spirit. The Galatians were told to stop biting and devouring each other. It is possible for different people, with different backgrounds to be united in heart, spirit and work. This is accomplished when people push themselves to the background and stand together under the banner of the Cross. It’s not your way, my way, but His way. Master and slave, together. Jew and Gentile, together. So different, yet so much the same because of Jesus. Our culture thrives on diversity and individualism. Accent the differences. Emphasis the differences. The N.T. focuses upon our sameness. Same problem, sin. Same solution, Jesus. Same hope, Heaven. Same responsibilities, live for Jesus. Congregations can thrive in unity. Forgiveness and grace and patience are the means to which this is accomplished.
Third, warring Christians is shameful to the Lord and makes the devil smile. When we can’t get along, it shows outsiders that no one can live by these principles. It shows that we don’t even believe in them. But a united church, powerful, strong, and growing, shows the world that we can be one. It shows the world that we can put Christ before our individual wishes. There are a couple of powerful bombs that Satan loves to drop upon a congregation. One is error. But the other is division. Get everyone stirred up, upset and mad with each other, and worship is ruined, the work stops and decades of good can be tossed out the window. That’s all it takes. And, a generation is often lost. Young people remember mom and dad being so upset over trouble at church. They see people pointing fingers and accusing each other of the worst things. And, with that, young people grow and want nothing to do with the people of God.
Fourth, to be one with each other, we must first be one with the Lord. And, right there might be the cause of much of the problem. We may have left the Lord out. We may have taken on battles without the Lord being included or invited. So, the first step in preserving the unity, is for each of us to be walking rightly with the Lord. We cannot be right with each other and not right with the Lord. The Lord always comes first. The Lord makes all the difference. And, this walk with the Lord will humble our attitudes and tame our tongues. It will give thought to our influence. It will think about the other person first. And, in doing all these things, unity happens. We get along. We share. We serve. Great things take place.
Be diligent about these things. Get about it and get about it quickly…