October 23, 2018 • Life for Leaders
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
We live in a divided world. Sometimes it feels as if the divisions between our various tribes have never been more stark and painful. It’s almost impossible to imagine a world in which there is unity among people who aren’t pretty much the same.
The unity being addressed in Ephesians 4:3 is unity among God’s people in Christ. Other kinds of unity matter, but they aren’t in view here. The unity of the church is the focus of this passage.
Why does this kind of unity matter? First of all, notice the verb in the phrase “keep the unity of the Spirit.” Unity among God’s people is not something we fabricate on our own. Rather, it is a work of God that we can either keep or destroy. It is a result of what God has done through Christ, who died in order to “create in himself one new humanity out of the two [Jew and Greek], thus making peace” (Ephesians 2:15). The Holy Spirit takes new believers and unites them in the church, the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-14).
Second, the verb translated here as “make every effort” is spoudazo, which means “be zealous or eager.” Thus, we make every effort to preserve Christian unity not only because it is right for us to do so, but also because we feel zealous about unity. As people in touch with the heart of God, we desire church unity because God desires it. We are zealous for unity because Christ died for it. Thus, we do all in our power to preserve it.
By analogy, as the people of God, we will also seek unity in other settings of life, in our families and neighborhoods, in our workplaces and cities, in our nations and in the whole world. Followers of Jesus are blessed to be peacemakers in our world, those who seek God’s justice and healing, and who seek to live out our calling through humility, gentleness, patience, and love (4:2).
Something to Think About:
When have you experienced genuine unity among Christians? What explains this unity?
Are you zealous for the unity of the church? Why or why not?
Something to Do:
Ask the Lord to show you how you can contribute tangibly to the unity of your Christian community. Then, follow the Spirit’s lead as you do what the Lord puts on your heart.
Gracious God, you call us to make every effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit. We confess that all too often we fail to heed this call. Sometimes we are not zealous for the unity of your people. Sometimes we even contribute to divisions and factions in your body. Forgive us, Lord.
Help us to care about the unity of your church, Lord. Help us to act in ways that preserve and strengthen this unity. May our unity in Christ testify to the truth of the gospel. May we glorify you through our oneness together. 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.