June 17th, 2019

gary damronMY PERSPECTIVE, Gary Damron


This topic is one I was trying to get to more than a month ago when I came across a verse in the 4th chapter of Ephesians. Logically though, it led to a series starting with chapter 1. This week we’ll turn from studying what God has done in the first 3 chapters, to chapter 4 which addresses our responsibility to do and be. 

The first point Paul made was, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1). He further delineated his plea for unity. Everyone who decides to follow Christ is called from sin, but also importantly to new life. Jesus said, “‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light’” (Matthew 11:28-30). Paul added, “…just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4). 

Paul then outlined four graces, all wrapped in love. Each was observed in Jesus’ life, and each lends spiritual integrity to any group which follows his teachings. Conflicts and tensions will come, but as the Church we have a responsibility to avoid disruption and find resolution. “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love” (Ephesians 4:1-2). Humility (lowliness) is the opposite of pride, showing a dependence on and recognition of worth in others. Gentleness (meekness) bears the faults of others without irritation or resentment. Patience (long-suffering) endures, outlasts pain or provocation, and looks expectantly for improvement. Tolerance (forbearing) continues loving and respecting despite faults and weaknesses. 

The next verse continues the charge to keep unity. “Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” The Greek word indicates, “sparing no effort”. After Jesus died and ascended, the Spirit came as the originator and sustainer of unity and peace. 

Rearranging verses 4 through 6 adds emphasis to the idea. This “one God” is sovereign “over all” and a pervading presence “through all and in all.” It is the presence of the “one Spirit” received through the “one baptism” in all who are believers in the “one Lord” through the “one faith” that make us “one body” sharing “one hope” of eternal salvation. 

Lest we get bogged down in a book study, we need to realize where verse 5 originated: “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). Foremost on the minds of those in Ephesus was the baptism by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 1:5; 2:33), which occurred in 30 A.D. The book of Ephesians was written around 62 A.D. The same theme is found right before the Love Chapter of 1 Corinthians 13. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13). 

When Jesus directed his disciples just before his ascension in Matthew 28:19 “Go make disciples of all the nations”, the means to do that came by the unifying power of the Holy Spirit. At the same time in Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” 

An overview of the book of Acts reveals not the acts of Jesus, as his earthly life was finished. It wasn’t even the acts of the apostles, because they couldn’t have accomplished any “acts” on their own. Then and now, it is the acts of the Holy Spirit, through baptismal power that unites diverse groups. 

In order to walk worthy of the calling we’ve received, we need the Spirit to mold and unite our hearts in divine love. If this sounds lofty or unattainable, the key is submission to the concept of unity through the four graces, and to God’s daily instruction. For those in the Church, the prime evidence - that we belong not to the world but to God - is unity. 

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