God’s unity: It’s a lifestyle matter

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Having read how Jesus prayed for all of his followers to be one, perhaps the idea of unity causes our minds to glide into the rut of only reflecting upon the fractured state of Christendom.

While in his prayer Jesus focused upon a unified fellowship of disciples, Paul would later develop another dimension of unity– how we live each day.

In the early chapters of Ephesians, Paul outlined God’s foundation for unity. Jesus, through his faithful response of dying upon the cross, not only released God’s power to resolve our spiritual alienation from God, but also enabled God to join together both Jew and Gentile within Christ’s body, the church.

We should not be surprised then that for Christians to live worthily of their calling entails “making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1,2 NET).

The Christian is to avoid undoing God’s work aimed at heading up everything in heaven and on earth in Christ.

What may shock us is how Paul guides Christians to maintain this unity of the Spirit. Instead of rolling up his sleeves to discuss how we ought to be at work bringing together a fractured fellowship of Christ, Paul’s focus throughout the remainder of this letter involves outlining how believers must live each day!

Paul seems to insist that we understand that in order for us to maintain unity we must engage in the practical work of “putting on the new man who has been created in God’s image – in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth” (Ephesians 4:24).

We are, after all, God’s workmanship in Christ (Ephesians 2:10). God’s new creation is not to be corrupted or dismantled.

The sin that destroys God’s unifying work of bringing humanity close to himself and joining together people must be rejected. The Christian should “not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30).

Lies are to be ejected. Stealing must be laid aside. Unwholesome words are not to leak from one’s mouth. Each day the Christian is called to live in a manner that preserves the holiness, fellowship and workmanship God has created.

When we arise each morning, what mindset typically governs our day? The grind of work? The routine with the kids? Schedules? Bills? Personalities we must encounter?

How often have we started a new day realizing that each moment presents the crossroads of either maintaining God’s efforts to unite all things in Christ or conversely grieving the Spirit through our sin?

Lived in this manner, life becomes radically transformed. Work is not simply work. A conversation is not simply chatting. Rather, each mundane moment provides the opportunity to participate in God’s purpose of maintaining his unity.

What a wonderful calling!

Unity is not just something for preachers to think about. It should be the daily concern of every Christian.

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They are the parents of two young men.

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