Ephesians 4:1-16: Making every effort

Greetings bloggers!

We're back for another theme that was sounded a couple of days ago. If Paul sounds a similar theme twice in the same letter, it's fairly clear that it's something of importance to him and thus should be to us. So let's take another in depth look at the issue of unity.

There's a sentence right up front that sets the whole thing into perspective."...making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." I really think this sentence could be challenging to those of us who work in ministry.

Some of us talk about how much we reach out to the other churches in our area. Maybe we do a once a month get together with our youth groups. Maybe we get excited because we network together with different denominations for a monthly lunch. But let's face it, the majority of us don't get together once a month, and even if we do once a month doesn't exactly sound like making every effort.

My heart breaks when the Church divides itself further. It truly does. There was a commercial a couple of months ago that I think puts things into perspective a little further for us:

I like the line "There was a time when 8 different brands made sense. Not anymore." I think if we were honest with ourselves, the Church would say "There was a time when splitting into completely different denominations over differences in doctrine made sense. Not anymore." I think we've fallen into a trap of listening to our own perspective so much that we've completely dismissed anyone else's perspective, we're just too busy defending our walls of faith.

Paul also writes in this passage that "We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine..." Which I'm sure can be interpreted to mean that we should stand firm in our doctrine and not let other people convince us to be changed or moved. But what if we're being tossed to and fro by our OWN doctrines? What if we're so caught up in the traditions of our past leaders that we forgot to spend any time being rooted and grounded in the faith and teachings of Jesus Christ? Because in comparison to the surpassing love of known Christ as Lord, the Book of Order is pretty weak.

John Wesley (someone I'm growing to respect a great deal!) said faith could be broken up into four equal areas: Scripture, Experience, Logic, and Tradition. If you put too much focus on any one of these areas, you will have a lopsided faith. If we focus too much on defending our traditions rather than being a unified body of Christ, we will not be effective at sharing Christ's love in the world.

So today, my challenge to us would be to make EVERY effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit. Not just some, not just a monthly meeting, but EVERY effort. What do you really know about the people who disagree with you? Do you truly know their doctrine or are you basing your thoughts on a cartoon version of who they are? Have you sat down with someone to try to figure out where they're coming from? Today, make EVERY effort to maintain our unity.

Tomorrow we'll go short and read from 4:17-24