Thursday: A Devotional Response
At the start of Ephesians 4, we see Paul begin to encourage us, the body of Christ, to focus on what unites us in the church: one body, one spirit, one glorious hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God to establish our connection with Christ.
While unity is important in other places of our lives, this is calling for unity in the church and we cannot ignore our differences because unresolved conflict leads to division. It is okay to not feel unified or connected to things of this world because as Pastor Matt recently spoke about, we are part of something that is not “worldly,” we are a part of the Kingdom of God. Not only is Paul calling on the members of the church body to resolve conflict but also the leadership in the church. It is easy to say in today’s world to blame “the other side,” but as members of the Church, we are called as Paul mentions to be humble and gentle, to be patient all because of your love.
Paul continues by providing an image for the church. We are all part of the church, the bride of Christ, and therefore are different parts of the body with different gifts. This body is unified with Christ, who makes the whole body fit together perfectly. All this is easy to say but how do we live this out as Christians?
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul writes to the church of Corinth trying to teach believers how to live in a society that doesn’t model Christ. He writes that spiritual gifts are given to us by the Holy Spirit to serve the Lord but to also support one another. Pastors who are gifted with the ability to teach are different than a doctor who can heal; each of us have different gifts that are all important to the body. But spiritual gifts are not the only way in which we are called to serve. We are called to serve in the church and in the world. Whether in the church in children’s ministry or somewhere outside the four walls of the church, we as Christians, as the body of Christ, are called to serve.
We can only resolve conflict, find unity, and serve in this self-sacrificial way if we take our love for each other seriously. One chapter later, in 1 Corinthians 13, Paul teaches us how we ought to love as Christians. If we serve but do not love, we gain nothing. Love is patient and kind, it does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. In this election year, as the unified church, we must learn to love each other, no matter our differences. We are called to love as Christ loved us (Colossians 3:1-17).
by Ryan Steffen