Disagreement in the church is common place when it comes to discussing the second coming of Jesus. My point here is not to break down the the varying belief systems, though I do think that is important, but more so to help believers to maintain healthy relationships while disagreeing about the eschatological topics and views.
First things first, we have to be obedient to the word of God and explore what it says about unity within the church. We want to be bereans in all things and that includes how we handle unity. Surely we all have views and opinions on what unity looks and feels like, but what does the Bible actually say and how do we apply it? I believe there is no better place to develop our doctrines on unity, than that in Ephesians 4:1-3. Let’s pick this verse apart just a bit and dig into the meat of what Paul was trying to hammer home.
“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
One of the primary observations of this verse is to walk worthy of your calling. Clearly their is standard of obedience that is set forth by the Lord but we have to accept it, in order walk in it. we accept this calling in the moment of our salvation Acts 2:37-39. Paul is simply reminding us to understand the urgency of what we are called to and how important it is to purpose it in our hearts to walk it out. He then goes on to describe what that looks like using the following terms.
- Tolerance (in the context of love)
It doesn’t take much to realize that Paul is tapping into the fruit of the spirit outlined in Galatians 5:22-23. Before Paul writes about the fruits of the spirit he first gives instructions to the Galatians. He writes “Walk in the spirit.” Galatians 5:16 If Paul is telling us to do such a thing, we must conclude that this is an intentional action. Walking in the spirit takes determination. If it were automatic to every believer, then Paul would not have to set forth this reminder. However some of the body of Christ believe they inherently walk in the spirit simply by way of salvation. As though it is automatic. Salvation and receiving the holy spirit Acts 2:38 makes us aware of the fruit, however it does not make us harvest or eat it.
Paul then goes on in Galatians to outline the deeds of the flesh. Typically when we read these, we tend to not think of ourselves. We think of deeper more prevalent and obvious sins, or people who are blatantly rebellious toward God. But Paul was writing to the Galatians. A church whom he knew had deep struggles. I believe Paul was actually drilling deeper here to each believers heart and the secret, not so obvious sins. He was asking them and us to become aware of low lying issues. He also wanted us to recognize they have no place among believers, especially if we were striving for unity. The Deeds of the flesh of are as follows:
- outbursts of anger
The first four deeds in my opinion are of a different level, but as you drill down the list you began to see the deeds become inward character issues rather than outward expressions of sin that can easily be hidden within each believer. Lets remember, this letter was to a church, not a rebellious society.
None of us are perfect, this is the glorious strength of the Grace of God, that it keeps us, even in our failure. Gods Grace also motivates us to operate in obedience with full confidence. When we have the Holy Spirit indwelling it is sealed and permanent John 14:16. We should not live with the insecurity that when we fail as believers we lose the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. However when we walk in the flesh we can squelch 1 Thessalonians 5:15-20 the spirit. Meaning we ignore the Holy Spirits promptings and operate out of our own desires in that moment.
How to walk in Ephesians 4 unity as a believer.
“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.”