podcast

#1,176 – The Unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:1–6)

Pray The Word
Ephesians
4
1-6
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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. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
-Ephesians 4:1–6

What a beautiful, powerful passage of scripture. As Paul exhorts, the church at Ephesus with eagerness, like bend over backward, to maintain the unity you have in the church around Jesus and his word. And this is a word I’m convinced we need to hear, we desperately need to hear and heed amidst a toxic, divisive political climate specifically in the United States right now, where there are so much tension and so much division over political candidates and parties to see the effects of that division in the church.

Rather than falling into the toxicity of the political climate we live in, we ought to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the church.

And God is calling us to bend over backward, to maintain the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace. Now, this isn’t just like some ambiguous unity. This is a strong unity around a strong center. The strongest center of all, the Spirit of God, the Son of God, unity around Jesus and his word. So everyone in the church is going to believe the Bible and embrace the gospel. And as a result, we have shared common foundations. When it comes to even political positions on all kinds of things that are clear in the Bible and in accord with the gospel, like all Christians, we’re united because we all love God’s word. We believe what God’s word says about marriage, about sexuality, about life, about care for the poor and a myriad of other issues.

At the same time, Christians who believe the word, who love Jesus, are following Jesus, who are making disciples for Jesus sometimes make political calculations based on those common foundations we all share in scripture. But those political calculations or decisions or positions sometimes vary on things that are not clear and direct in God’s word. But this is where we’re reminded that our unity in the church is not based on those kinds of political calculations and positions and even decisions we might make. Like our unity is around Jesus and what is clear and direct in his word. And so when you have a disagreement with another follower of Jesus about something that is not clear and direct in God’s word, maybe even something you’re passionate about, it’s actually a sign of health in this fallen world to be able to disagree about those things, dialogue about those things with honor and respect and love for one another, but in a way that does not compromise unity together around Jesus and his word.

Like our unity is not built around political ideology or candidates or parties. Our unity is built around Jesus and his word, and we cleaned to Jesus in his word. And we must pray for this kind of unity in a toxic political climate, where we’re continually tempted to accuse, and belittle, and cancel, and distressed, and disparage and derive, even divide from other followers of Jesus. Like we are swimming in toxic, political waters that are poisoning the unity that Jesus desires for his church, died so that his church might experience.

So God, we pray. We pray that you would help us with humility and gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and love, to maintain the unity of the spirit and the bond of peace as your church during these days. God, we pray for this. We know Jesus, this is what you prayed for us in John Chapter 17, that we would be one as you and the father are one. God, we pray for that kind of unity so that the world may know that you sent me, you said Jesus. So the world may know that you were sent by the Father as the savior of the world. God, we want to proclaim your love and your grace and your mercy, who you are, Jesus, your design, and your death on the cross for the salvation of people. We want to proclaim this clearly in the world. So help us proclaim this with a unified spirit, help us to hold fast. We pray to that which is clear in your word, help us not to compromise on that, which is clear in your word.

And then God help us amidst our disagreements and differences on things that are not clear in your word. We pray that you would help us to love one another, to even share those differences with each other, with humility, and sympathy, and affection, and patience, and kindness, and gentleness, and tenderness, and selflessness. We pray for speech that’s gracious and fair and encouraging and edifying, never slanderous. God keep us from all slander, help us to speak in ways that are seasoned with salt, bearing with one another in love, assuming the best in one another by your grace and caring for one another with your attitude, Jesus, with the attitude of Christ. God, we pray for an otherworldly, unexplainable unity in your church amidst the toxic, divisive political climate in our country. We ask for this and we pray that you would help us to play whatever part you’ve called us to play in promoting, and nurturing, and maintaining this unity that we have in Jesus. We pray in your name, Lord Jesus, the Lord of your church. Amen.

Join us in praying God’s Word as we lead up to the presidential election on November 3rd. Download our prayer guide HERE.

David Platt serves as pastor at McLean Bible Church in Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.
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