Jump Start # 3096
Ephesians 4:3 “Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
We are a divided country. We may refer to our land as the United States, but truth be, there isn’t much unity these days. There is division over politics, the direction of the country, economy, role of police, abortion, global warming, the move to electronic cars, booster shots, masks, what the minimum wage ought to be, and a zillion other topics. This isn’t new. People have always been divided. Back in Jesus’ day, Jew/Gentile differences. Even among the Jews, there were Pharisees, Essenes, Sadducees, and the radical zealots. They didn’t see eye to eye on things.
The history of different religions and churches reveals a conservative and progressive spirit among all of them. And, nearly every one has split, divided and splintered over issues that could not be agreed upon.
But there is something different about our differences today. They have taken on a much sharper, critical and mean spirit. The old expression about disagreeing without being disagreeable is no longer around. Disagreeable has taken over. Shouting, violence, riots, name calling, ridicule has filled the streets, the air waves and social media. If one disagrees today, you are very likely to be hurt, insulted and have your name trashed publicly.
These are the times we live in. They are not good times. They are not showing the best side of us. And this spirit in the streets and in our culture always has a way of finding a place among disciples. It shouldn’t, but it does. So, we need to be reminded of the value and importance of unity among us. A divided church is a weak church. A divided church does not have one mind nor one voice. A divided church is confusing and sends mixed messages.
Satan loves to pick us apart and accent our differences. Different backgrounds. Different baggage we carry. Different ideas. Different dreams. But through Christ, we learn to put ourselves on the back burner and seek what is best for others. A selfish heart ruins unity.
Our verse today echoes three powerful principles:
First, being diligent. Don’t let this slide by. Don’t put this off. Work hard at this. Work now at this. Diligence makes the difference. Diligence will be quick to apologize, quick to forgive and quick to extend grace. That’s just the way diligence works.
Second, preserve unity. Keep unity. Don’t push each other’s buttons. Don’t irritate. Don’t be so quick with your opinions. Don’t be judgmental and always pointing a finger at someone. Preserve it. Don’t engage in every skirmish. Don’t delay in doing what is right. A united church is a blessing. Don’t come in and try to change things to suit you. Don’t upset others.
Third, the bond of peace. Peace and unity go together. One can’t have unity if there isn’t peace. Hard to think the best when one is upset with someone. Hard to work together when you’d rather not be around that person. We must first have peace with God. That comes through discipleship and the forgiveness found in Christ Jesus. Then we must have peace with ourselves. We must forgive ourselves as God has. We must find our talent and use it for the kingdom. From that, then we launch out to have peace with each other. We have a common denominator, Jesus Christ. We have a common destination, Heaven. We have a common purpose, being disciples that want to honor the Lord. Those things are dear. Hold to them and treasure them.
It’s easy to look at how we are different. Instead, look at what we have in common. Build upon the good things. Encourage. Lift up. Honor one another.
The division in our country is going to be hard to solve. Unity can’t be forced. It’s like sitting in the back seat of the car with your sister on a long road trip. The car hasn’t even left the neighborhood before “she touched me,” starts. Politics won’t do it. Forcing people to accept what they don’t want isn’t the answer. It may be this way for a long, long time, until we get the idea that we all need Jesus.
Be diligent…preserve the unity…in the bond of peace. It works in a church. It works in the home. It works with God.