Paul has spent the last three chapters talking about how we have all been made one in Christ. That though Jews and non-Jews had been divided under the Old Covenant, in Christ, the dividing wall was smashed and we are all now one body under one Head.
And in that context, Paul then says,
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. (1)
Again, it would be helpful to remember that these are plural “you”s. He’s saying, I urge you all as a church, to live a life worthy of the calling you all as a church have received. What calling is that? To be one body in Christ. To be a body in which God declares his wisdom and glory to the world.
And all the rest of the book is with that idea in mind. How do we live as that body? How do we be a body in which we can declare God’s wisdom and glory to the world? Paul tells us.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (2-3)
Be completely humble. That one’s a tough one for me. It’s so easy for me, having been a Christian for as long as I have, and having learned all that I have over the years, to become proud. But the truth is, I’m still learning. I still make mistakes. I still fail. I still sin. God reminded of me that this past week. And so as I deal with others, I need to remember these things about myself.
With that humility should come a gentleness as I deal with others’ mistakes, failings, and sins. And a patience as well, knowing that God has been utterly patient with me. That means I need to be bearing with other’s mistakes, failures, and weaknesses, loving them all the while, and not looking down on them or despising them.
He then says, “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit.”
We are one. God has made us one. But it takes effort to remain one and break us apart. Because of our sinful tendencies, unity is in constant danger of entropy. And it takes a vigilant watchfulness and effort on our part to keep it all together in the bond of peace.
I like how the ESV puts it, be, “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit.” Are we eager to do that? Or are we rather eager to put others down, to tear them apart for their weaknesses and failures?”
Paul reminds us again,
There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to one hope when you were called– one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (4-6)
In short, we are all one body. We share the same Holy Spirit who dwells in us all. We share the same hope in Christ. We share the same Lord Jesus who saved us. We share the same faith. We share the same baptism into Christ. We share the same Father who rules overs us all, who works through us all, and is in us all.
So how can we then tear each other apart?
Satan delights in a divided church. A divided church cannot display the wisdom and glory of God to the world.
So let us put away a divisive spirit among us. God has made us one. Let us make every effort then to remain one.