Ephesiansby Robert M. Solomon
In the first three chapters, Paul dwells on lofty doctrines and reflections, prayer and praise as he plumbed the depths of God’s love, the heights of His wisdom, and the unimaginable power that is at work in the church. We have been given beautiful views of salvation and the church, the new humankind, and the new society created by divine grace, mercy, and power. In reality, however, we know that the church is often not what it should be, because of unbelief and disobedience.
So, in the next three chapters, Paul turns to practical issues. It is a wonderful demonstration of the connection between doctrine and discipleship, between language and life, between principle and practice. “Therefore” (Epehsians 4:1 ESV) Paul urges his readers to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (v. 1). Our calling is full of splendour, as seen in the grandeur of the first three chapters, which must be matched by our individual and community life. God’s grace will enable us to live according to His plan and purposes.
After all that God has done, after all that Christ has sacrificed on the cross, after all the gifts and the power the Spirit has given to the church, it would be a great tragedy if the church did not reflect the beauty of the bride of Christ. One of the signs of the loveliness of Christ’s church is unity. We are not called to create this unity (through proper management strategies and team building games, perhaps), for it is already given to the church. It is the “unity of the Spirit” (v. 3), who sanctifies us and fills us with God’s truth and love. The problem arises when we disrupt and discard what has been given to us through pride and other sinful attitudes.
For the church to stay united, it is necessary that believers make “every effort” to preserve that unity and peace (v. 3). Every member must pull together in the same direction under the leadership of the Spirit and in the strength of the Lord. For this to happen, godly attitudes such as humility, gentleness, and patience—all based on godly love—are necessary (v. 2). We are to spare no effort—”Be completely humble and gentle” (v. 2)—and remember that there is always room for improvement.
Why do the church and Christian individuals not live up to the plans and resources of God? Ask this question of yourself as well.
Why is Christian unity received rather than created (or manufactured)? How have you contributed to Christian unity both positively and negatively? Reflect on verse 2 and pray for its presence in your life.