Be Eager to Maintain Unity

“Eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2).

I quoted this verse to my daughter today and she looked at me with a confused look and said, “What does that mean?” 

That’s always a good question. I explained to her that in the Church we are all one big family and so we need to stay together and get along. We need to make sure that even when we’re mad and hurt by each other we work at still forgiving each other.

It is very necessary that we read this verse and heed its exhortation. It will inevitably be a verse we have to apply in our own lives. So, as my daughter asked, “what does it mean?” And I would add, “how do we do it?” and “what motivation are we given to obey?”

What does this verse mean?

It says to be “eager”? That means to want to do or have something very much. What do you do when you want something really bad? You pursue it. You work to get it. Even if there are opticals you keep at it. That needs to be us. We need to be zealous in our pursuit of unity. 

Notice also that we are to want to “maintain” the unity. Unity is not just important at one point in one situation. We should desire and work towards maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace at all times and through all situations. 

The reality is that Christians are united in Christ. There is unity. There is peace with God and with one another. So we should be bonded together in peace. 

How do we practice what this verse calls us to?

What does it look like for us to be eager to maintain unity? We need to live in light of the gospel and thus live “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love” (v. 2). We need to have the mind of Jesus. He humbled Himself and became a servant—He who rightly dwells in heaven and is continually worshiped—and even died a gory death for others. 

We must act like our Savior and Lord. We must seek to do as He has done and what He calls us to do. We must love, even when it is painful. 

What motivation are we given to obey this verse?

We are exhorted “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which [we] have been called” (v. 1). We have been called “children of God,” we have been called “new creation,” we have been called “God’s holy possession,” we have been called “ambassadors for Christ,” we have been called “saint,” we have been called “God’s temple.” How then can we walk in disunity and anger and unforgiveness?!

How can we allow disunity when in reality “There is one body and one Spirit—just as [we] were called to the one hope that belongs to [our] call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (v. 4-6)?! 

May we always zealously seek to maintain unity by living humbly in love realizing that if anyone is in Christ they are a brother or sister for whom Christ died. May we never turn out and disdain someone who Jesus has brought in with His blood.[1] May we never belittle the glorious redemptive work of God in that way.

_______

[1] Of course, that isn’t to say that there is never a reason for church discipline.

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About Paul O'Brien

I am a lot of things; saint and sinner. I struggle and I strive. I am a husband and father of three. I have been in pastoral ministry for 10 years. I went to school at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary but most of my schooling has been at the School of Hard Knocks. I have worked various jobs, including pheasant farmer, toilet maker, construction worker, and I served in the military. My wife and I enjoy reading at coffee shops, taking walks, hanging out with friends and family, and watching our three kid's antics. :)

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