“Unity” is mentioned ten times in the bible and “be one” four times in reference to the body of Christ. In Ephesians 5 Paul is talking about the “profound mystery” of marriage – the union of one man and one woman and then suddenly throws in: “and I am talking about the church” tying in the unity of marriage with the unity of the church.
A personal favorite passage of mine about unity is found in Ephesians 4: 1-13. Paul starts out reminding us that we each have received a particular calling, a personal assignment from God. Yes, the God of the universe has sent you an assignment! And we are urged to live worthy of this calling we have received from him. Then he then tells us how.
We are to be completely humble and gentle, patient, and are to bear with one another in love. This is a list of qualities that speaks of quiet strength. It reminds me of being a father to my son and daughter who need grace, forgiveness, and understanding given in a nurturing loving way as they navigate through circumstances. Strength in gentleness. Lovingly and patiently guiding in the context of relationship.
We are to make every effort to “keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace”. We are to peacefully keep what we already have, that being unity. And it takes work to keep this unity, it takes “every effort” to keep this “oneness”.
Paul then gives us examples of God’s one-ness: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one faith, one baptism, one God, one Father of all who is over all and in all. I am struck by this one-ness and the complete-ness of being over everything.
In our daily lives we will face challenges to the one-ness, the unity that we did have at one point in the Garden of Eden before sin entered the world. I often see sin as dividing. It is the wedge between all that was once was. The marriage that started out so promising, the child and parent that were at one time so close, even “one” in pregnancy, indeed, the unity of all humanity, the unity between God and man.
And when sin breaks this unity the result is us not being able to live out the personal calling we have received. We will fight, argue, take sides, divide and we will be derailed from that which is given to us by God himself.
I am challenged to peacefully put the effort in necessary for unity. To be more humble, gentle, and bear with the other in love. To live worthy of the calling.