September 17, 2018 • Life for Leaders
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
God has chosen to make his manifold wisdom known through the church. That’s what we learn from Ephesians 3:10. But this verse doesn’t tell us exactly how the church is supposed to do this. I’ll be bold enough to suggest a couple of ways this will happen, one today and one tomorrow.
In part, we who belong to Christ and his church make God’s wisdom known through what we say. We speak of God’s plan to restore and unify all things through Christ.
Yet, our words will ring hollow if they are just words. In fact, our words will seem outright wrong if our actions contradict them. Those who need to hear the good news of God’s wisdom will not be inclined to believe our message unless they see evidence of its truth in our lives.
How do we live out the manifold wisdom of God? How do we demonstrate the truth of the gospel in our daily lives? As we’ll see later, the final three chapters of Ephesians provide many answers to these questions. Today, however, I want to highlight one crucial aspect of gospel-displaying living.
Ephesians 1:10 reveals that God’s big plan is “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” In the latter half of Ephesians 2, the unity of Jews and Gentiles in the church is a direct result of the reconciling impact of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. The unity of the church, therefore, serves as a signpost for what God is doing throughout the cosmos.
As a church member for fifty years and a pastor for thirty, I realize that unity is not easily forged or maintained in our congregations. I also realize that immoral behavior and wrong belief can damage the unity of God’s people. So I don’t mean to sound naïve when suggesting that we should seek Christ-centered unity as the people of God. I know how hard this can be in practice. But the theology of Ephesians inspires us to seek unity in the church, even if this is a difficult challenge, and even if we’ll never get it perfectly right.
In a day when there are such divisions among people, when we use social media to demonize our political opponents, when fissures between races and classes are getting bigger, not smaller, the church has the opportunity—and, indeed, the calling—to be different, to model for the world a unity that comes from Jesus Christ through the power of his Spirit.
Something to Think About:
Why do you think it is so hard for Christians to experience the unity we have in Christ?
How, in your life, do you seek to promote the unity of the church? What do you find difficult about this effort?
Something to Do:
If you’re wondering how you might contribute to the unity of the church, I encourage you to look ahead in Ephesians. Read chapter 4, verses 1-6. Then, pick anything from verse 2 and seek to live this way today.
Gracious God, you have called us as your people to make known to the cosmos your manifold wisdom, your plan to unite all things in Christ. As much as we might feel nervous about speaking of this wisdom to those who don’t know it, this duty is actually much easier than the call to embody unity in our life as the church. So many things threaten to break us apart, to fill our common life with discord and disharmony. Often, we contribute to the disunity, rather than to the unity of your church. Forgive us, Lord.
Though I could easily distract myself with a theoretical discussion of what church unity ought to be or why it is so elusive, help me to focus in very practical ways on what I can do to foster unity among your people. Help me to be an agent of reconciliation in my relationships. May I make every effort to keep the unity of your Spirit as I live my life each day. Amen.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
The Spiritual Unity of the Church
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.