As I have been recently teaching through the book of Ephesians, I have noticed how important the subject of unity is to the apostle Paul. In point of fact, the entire focus of this epistle is Paul’s deep desire that the Jews and Gentiles be united as they lived out their church life together.
He keeps using the term “one” to express his hopes for that church. He wanted them to experience one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all (see Eph. 4:4). He saw that kind of spiritual and personal unity as the means that God would use to cause them all to mature.
He didn’t want them to be “infants,” “tossed about with waves” or “blown” around by every “wind of teaching.” His vision was for them “to grow up into Him who is the Head, that is Christ.” And unity (not uniformity) was the means to achieve those goals.
God still wants His kids to mature and grow up in Him. And He still recommends a mindset that values our commonality, rather than our differences.
I had to laugh as I read a section in Max Lucado’s book A Gentle Thunder. He says, “Some time ago I came upon a fellow on a trip who was carrying a Bible. ‘Are you a believer?’ I asked him. ‘yes,’ he said excitedly.
I have learned you can’t be too careful. ‘Virgin birth?’ I asked. ‘I accept it.’ ‘Deity of Jesus?’ ‘No doubt.’ ‘Death of Christ on the cross?’ ‘He died for all people.’
Could it be that I was face to face with a Christian? Perhaps. Nonetheless, I continued my checklist. ‘Status of man.’ ‘Sinner in need of grace’ ‘Definition of grace.’ ‘God doing for man what man can’t do.’
‘Return of Christ?’ ‘Imminent.’ ‘Bible?’ ‘Inspired.’ ‘The church’ ‘The body of Christ.’ I started to get excited. ‘Conservative or liberal?’ He was getting interested too. ‘Conservative.’
My heart began to beat faster. ‘Heritage?’
‘Southern Congregationalist Holy Son of God Dispensationalist Triune Convention.’ That was mine! ‘Branch?’ ‘Pre-millennial, post-trib, noncharismatic, King James, one-cup communion.’
My eyes misted. I had only one other question. ‘Is your pulpit wooden or fiberglass?’ ‘Fiberglass,’ he responded. I withdrew my hand and stiffened my neck. ‘Heretic!’ I said and walked away.”
Fellowship between believers has been broken for all kinds of silliness. What a shame. This week, let’s make a special effort to encourage the bond of peace as Paul would say. Let’s emphasize what we hold in common and find ways to build each other up.
We ARE going to spend all eternity together….regardless of our preference for fiberglass or wooden pulpits.