From Ephesians Ch. 4:
1 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called
Ah, yes, this is my great desire…to walk in a manner worthy of my calling…but what does that look like? How is that done?
Humility, gentleness, patience, love..all evidences of the Spirit at work, doing His good work in my life; but there is something here which especially catches this farm girl’s eye:
3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace
“being diligent”, “to preserve”…
diligent– characterized by persevering, painstaking effort
to preserve–1. to keep safe from injury, peril, or other adversity, protect. 3. to keep/maintain intact. 5. to prevent from decaying or spoiling.
To keep safe from injury or adversity~attacks from without~Satan attacks the Body of Christ frequently on this front.
To prevent from decaying or spoiling~attacks from within~rotting from the inside out from our own sinful nature and pride.
“Being diligent”, “to preserve”..these are two very active verbs. As I recently explained to a friend, I preserve food from May to October. It does not happen easily or naturally. It is frequently hot, sweaty, back-aching, painstaking work. If I am careless not to check the jars, they may not seal. If I am careless not to sterilize them properly, I may end up ruining the whole batch from some hidden bacteria that is not clearly evident until much later.
It makes me think that preserving the unity of the Spirit also requires much effort and careful attention. It does not happen easily or naturally. If I am careless with my words or unchecked pride, I may unwittingly do great damage.
Why doesn’t unity happen naturally? The Body of Christ has tremendous diversity (1 Co. 12:14). It includes both the urban rap artist and a quiet farm girl like me. It includes blue collar and white collar, educated and uneducated, Republican and Democrat. The Body is even bigger than that. It is a global body. It includes West and East. It includes the family who worships at a mega church on Sunday morning and the family with few to no earthly possessions who sing with a deep wellspring of joy in their musical African tongue; it includes the church whose members arrive in secret and have no pastor because their pastor is being tortured in a jail cell. It includes those of us surrounded by an abundance of God’s word, and I count myself among them, and believers who share one precious copy of the Bible among the members of the church~each member committing to memorize their portion so that even if their Bible is taken from them, God’s word will still be in their heart.
4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling ; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
This, THIS, is real diversity, real unity, and it is beautiful.
When John and I were first married, there was a PSA that ran ad nauseum on the radio touting that “our strength comes from our diversity”. Not true. Our strength does not come from our diversity, but rather from the One Lord who calls each one and unites us in one faith, one baptism, one hope.
Within all this unity, which is right and good and holy, there is tremendous diversity:
7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
God’s grace is not a gift given to the Body of Christ. It is a gift given individually to you and to me and to each one of us as we have need because we are loved and valued distinctively by God. What is more, grace is given according to the measure of Christ’s gift, which is to say it is measureless~it just does not run out.
And so within the Body of Christ~this wonderful, quirky, incredibly-diverse-yet-unified Body of Christ~our fundamental need is the same, to be saved and forgiven from our sins, but our circumstances are unique to each one of us and God answers each one of us uniquely by His grace.