Unity is not uniformity and uniformity does not necessarily produce unity. In our diversity, though, we can still be unified.
The fourth chapter of Ephesians is a difficult section from which to extract only one meaningful section upon which to comment. Every section is loaded with meat and worthy of a long discourse. Indeed, every sentence in this chapter speaks to my heart and begs my further reflection.
But, that is not the purpose of this exercise so I will content myself to constrain the words to only one of the many beautiful thoughts in this chapter.
Eph 4:1-3 – I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (ESV)
A few weeks ago in the blogosphere, there was a strong word on the need for and necessity of confrontation. It was a good word. Confrontation of sin and hypocrisy is necessary now more than ever in our sin-sick, new-age-influenced churches. But, it is easy to go overboard with this. It is easy to spot “what is wrong” especially when all we do is look for that which is out of order.
We are not God’s policemen. That job belongs to the Holy Spirit. (John 16:8-11)
Paul tempers that sort of mentality here as he tells us to be eager to maintain peace.
He also mentions this necessity in another place where he writes:
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (Rom 12:18 ESV)
The application of this verse may best be served by using a paraphrase: Refuse to touch the bone of contention.
This is what we need to operate by in our lives, and I’ve seen some bloggers who are beginning to make this shift in their thinking. I’m hoping that they will begin to have good testimony as to its effectiveness.
By effectiveness, I mean that if we can get off the issues that cause controversy, we may very well have a chance to bring someone to the truth we have been trying unsuccessfully to beat them over the head with.
It is worthy of our calling if we can learn to live at peace, to maintain unity through our humility, gentleness, and patience.
Yes, it is true that this has been pushed to an extreme where now, all things are tolerated in the name of peace. And, yes, the pendulum MUST swing in the other direction. However, I do not believe that it is necessary for us to go to the other extreme of picking a fight over every little thing that we think is wrong.
Make peace and harmony the goal.
Harmony means that there is agreement.
Let us learn to differentiate between the absolutely necessary, that is, the primary, things and those that are not.
Earnestly contend for that which is necessary.
Enjoy the debates over that which is not, but do not allow fellowship to be broken. And if someone is about to break fellowship over something that is debatable, then it is up to you to take the higher road, drop the debate, restore peace and maintain unity.
That is the Word of the Lord to us in this passage.
NOTE: This is the fourth in a weekly posting on the Epistle to the Ephesians. I am not the only one who is writing on this book. There are others who will be posting something on their blog each day of the week. We are each bringing something that the Lord gives us from chapter four of the epistle. You will be greatly blessed and encouraged, and your heart will be filled if you will take the time to read each day’s posting from one of the other saints involved in this collective effort. Put the following link in your “favorites” or on your link bar at the top of your browser: http://www.philter48.com/bbs/ and make it a point to visit everyday.