Unity Demands Fellowship

By James Earl Massey
Posted on February 3, 2017 by chogministries

[Be] eager to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. —Ephesians 4:3 RSV

Human contacts can at times be burdensome. Strained relations can happen in many ways: there is strain when our opinions clash, when our cultures differ, when our individual expectations are diverse, and when our personal interests are separate—and strong. Unless the spirit of community prevails in these times of strain, any oneness is thwarted. Unity is a divine gift, but we believers can experience that oneness only as we let it happen through open sharing with one another.

Unity has to be desired before it can be developed. Personal effort promotes togetherness and maintains that togetherness in unbroken fashion. Unity is more than a spiritual matter; it is a social result. It is a “happening” in the heart that makes each believer sense and seek togetherness with all other believers.

Division is not rooted in structures but in ourselves, in our attitudes and outlooks. As we think first and foremost about the church and forsake the limited concerns of personal whim and individual feelings, we overcome the distance that selfishness makes us feel.

There is in the Christian faith a community principle. The church involves us in a life that must go beyond our privacy and preferences. Unity does affirm us as individuals, yes, but it does so only within the wider fellowship.

The church is not just a spiritual entity within which each person goes her or his own way; it is a social bond to help us go God’s way—together. Only thus does the church become visible to the world as a distinct people.

It is time to open our eyes and hearts to all the others in this procession of faith. It is time for all of us to become more concerned about the whole church and to accept one another in full. This is the concern of the writer’s call upon us to show “lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

Please notice that the writer stresses a vision of the whole church. He knew that we transcend selfish considerations and smaller groupings only when we are challenged by the larger vision. That is why the writer repeatedly underscored the oneness of the Christian message. He wrote,

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all (4:4–6 RSV, italics added).

Given this concentrated attention upon oneness, and on such a grand and glorious scale, we believers are being told to lift our sights to the wider range of faith and relationships. We are being told to see as God sees, and to work in agreement with God, who has willed our unity in him.

God has shown faith in us. We must be faithful to what he has planned and willed for us. A part of that plan appears in Ephesians 4:13 where the writer speaks about unity in still another dimension. He speaks of “attain[ing] to the unity of the faith.”

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