Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
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. (Ephesians 4:3-6)
What does unity look like in a day and age where division seems to prevail. Our country seems more divided today than ever before. This Ephesians 4 verse tells us to make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. So we know it is through the idea of peace that we can seek unity.
If I believe God’s Word over what I experience in the world, then I must trust that as I seek unity with others these verses will come to life. So how do we do this?
1.Love God and love your neighbor. Period. Finished. End of story.
Jesus said the greatest of the commandments can be summed up with these two things: love God, love your neighbor. Everything else falls in line. If we could just do these two things every day. Love God with everything you’ve got in all the ways you can and then use what He gives you to love your neighbor. I mean, just imagine if we just did this, the way Jesus commanded how different our world would be.
2. Understand relationships must trump everything else.
They have to. Which means when you are requesting something of someone else, when you disagree on a non-essential (ex: where to have an event, who is going to get the create the invite, what food to serve), or you are seeking to build partnerships with others, maintaining relationships must trump the everything else. It’s putting the love your neighbor principle to the test.
3. Build up and don’t tear down.
Seems simple enough, right? Sure. But theory and practice application are quite different. We can tear people down in two different ways: (1) in our mind and with (2) our mouth. To seek unity we need to commit to not doing either one. For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. (Proverbs 23:7) You become what you think. Which means we have to train our minds to align with the word of God so that we don’t tear each other down but rather build each other up. In building others up, we honor them as the image-bearers of God, holy and precious to Him.
4. Realize that comparison is equal to coveting.
I know you don’t like reading that statement above. I don’t like reading that statement either. But it is the truth. The 10th commandment tells us not to covet anything of our neighbors. When we compare what we have to what someone else has, we fall into the sin of coveting. It is so easy for me to say, just don’t do it. I’d be a hypocrite. But what we can do is learn how to repent, and instead of comparing, praying and praising God for the other person/organization/church/ministry/business/school and their role in our communities.
5. We all matter to God.
Check out verses 5 and 6 above and how many times it says the word “all.” All matter to God. He is the God of all. He loves all. He came to serve all. Jesus died for all. If it matters to God it certainly should matter to us. We don’t get to pick and choose who we love, nor do we get to play favorites. Everyone matters to God, so everyone must matter to us.
So as we consider these four areas I want us to explore together what it means, for you and me, to take God at His word to live known to Him, to desire immeasurably more, and to seek unity so that we are catalysts in our community drawing people into His kingdom here on earth and in Heaven.