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With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:2-3)
Ephesians 4 begins a whole new part of Paul’s letter. The first three chapters explain in glorious detail all that God has done for believers, freely by His grace. Starting with chapter 4, he tells believers how to live rightly, but only after having explained what God did for His people in Jesus Christ.
Having considered and received all that God has done for us, we are to live with all lowliness and gentleness, not a pushy desire to defend our own rights and advance our own agenda. Before Christianity, the word lowliness always had a bad association to it. In the minds of many it still does; but it is a glorious Christian virtue (Philippians 2:1-10). It means that we can be happy and content when we are not in control or steering things our way.
Having considered and received all that God has done for us, we are to have longsuffering and to bear with each other. We need this so that the inevitable wrongs that occur between people in God’s family will not work against God’s purpose of bringing all things together in Jesus – illustrated through His current work in the church.
Having considered and received all that God has done for us, we should endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This humble, patient attitude towards each other naturally fulfills this gift of the unity of the Spirit.
Note that we must endeavor to keep this unity – we do not create it. God never commands believers to create unity among themselves. God has created it by His Spirit; our duty is to recognize it and keep it.
This is a spiritual unity, not necessarily a structural or denominational unity. It is evident in the quick fellowship possible among Christians of different races, nationalities, languages, and economic classes.
We can understand this unity of the Spirit by understanding what it is not. This isn’t the unity of lies, of evil, of superstition, or the unity that cowers under spiritual tyranny. This isn’t the unity of geography, as if all the Christians in a city had to be weekly gathered in the same building to fulfill this. It isn’t the unity of church government or denominational arrangements.
This is the unity of the Spirit and false forms of unity work against the true. We are confident that this unity is found in Jesus Christ, by the Spirit of God. As true, born-again believers from different backgrounds and experiences draw closer and closer to Jesus, they will also draw closer to one other. Jesus Christ is the source of our unity; He is one who broke down every wall (Ephesians 2:14).
Jesus purchased this powerful unity at great cost: with His own blood. Believer, what are you doing to keep this unity?