THE GIFT OF UNITY
Truly healthy families are few and far between. Most TV shows reflect this by featuring brothers and sisters who back-bite, lie and deceive each other. The Reagan family on the police drama Blue Bloods at least tries to show peace and harmony with a Sunday Dinner in every episode. But whether in fiction or real life, family unity is a real challenge in today’s frenetic world.
The believers who lived in Ephesus in the first century must have struggled with unity as well because Paul encourages peace among the family of Christ at the beginning of Chapter 4.
“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6, NIV).
This passage summarizes the unity that God so longs for us all to share together as the body of Christ, no matter where we go to church.
A pastor friend used to say that some things are disputable within the body of Christ, such as music, dress, how we raise our kids, movies, politics, and those kinds of things, but certain things are bedrock truths. This is what Paul is saying here. This is the gift of unity. One body. One spirit. One hope. One faith. One baptism. One God, the Father. And right in the middle? One Lord. One. His name is Jesus Christ! So Paul is essentially saying, “C’mon, church. We can agree on this! Let’s lift up the name of Christ together … for His glory.”
Have you ever traveled someplace far away, whether on a mission trip or just someplace away from home, and met another Christ-follower for the first time? There is a sweet common bond, isn’t there? A unity that is shared together. And it’s deeper than who your schoolmates were or being a part of a group that cheers for the same sports team.
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.”(Philippians 2:1-2, NIV).
Why is unity so important? Jesus says in John 17, it’s so that the world will see how much we love each other, and that will cause unbelievers to believe!
May we be encouraged to embrace unity. No matter our race. No matter our geography. No matter our education. And may we do so in a way worthy of Christ. Being humble, gentle, patient, and bearing with one another in love. May you receive and give this gift of unity this Advent.
Father God, I pray for all believers around the world today. May we all be united in bringing the Gospel message to the lost and hurting, especially during this season. May Your peace come on earth as it is in Heaven. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
This advent devotional can be found on the YouVersion Bible App here.