How can WE maintain UNITY in the CHURCH? “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:1-3)
There is a major break at this point in Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesian believers. The above verses start the second half of this epistle in which Paul emphasizes matters of practical theology that include the behavior of Christian believers resulting from following the doctrines taught in the first half. Every believer’s life should match the excellency of his/her calling of Christ. While the previous three chapters had dealt with the calling of a Christian believer, the last three chapters deal with Paul urging each believer to walk worthy of his/her calling (see 2:2, 10; 4:1, 17; 5:2, 8, 15). The word ‘walk’ describes a person’s entire lifestyle. A worthy walk is one that is consistent with a Christian’s dignified position as a member of the Body of Christ!
For the second time in this epistle, Paul refers to himself as a prisoner; however, this time he is “the prisoner of the Lord” (3:1; 6:20). What Paul means is that he is totally controlled by the Lord Jesus, and is now giving specific instructions under His direction alone. As one who has been imprisoned to the Lord Jesus as a result of his faithfulness and obedience, Paul exhorts his readers to walk worthy of their calling. He appeals to them tenderly and gently using the language of grace! In view of all that God’s grace has done for them (as described earlier in chapters 1–3), Paul now urges his readers to live in a manner befitting the divine call which had summoned them to salvation.
Overall, Paul stresses the importance of living in unity. God will facilitate unity in answer to prayer, but believers are responsible to obey Him. Three virtues contribute to unity in the church: humility, gentleness, and patience. These are the virtues that our Lord Jesus Christ demonstrated when He was on earth (Phil. 2:5–8). It is evident that believers should practice all these virtues with loving forbearance and peace toward one another. This will greatly help in preserving the unity between believers that God has created in the church. Seven elements unite believers in the church, including one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all (vv. 4–6).
Therefore, in order to maintain unity in the church we must submerge our own petty, personal whims and attitudes, and work together in peace for the glory of God and for common blessing. Such internal, spiritual unity (John 17:21–23) can be only produced and maintained by the Holy Spirit since we are one in the Spirit. We should do our best with persistent efforts, determination, and perseverance. God has placed us together in the church; we must work at preserving that unity. We should live lives that will give consistent, undeniable evidence of the truth of the gospel just like our Lord (1 Pet. 2:21-23; 1 John 2:6). Having peace with God and with one another is the unifying bond that holds all together. We are also “one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28), so we must endeavor to make that spiritual unity a practical reality in our daily lives as well.
“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (Apostle Paul, 1 Cor. 1:10)