The Unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:1–6) - Radical

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

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

Ephesians 4:1–6 is 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.

Ephesians 4:1–6 Leads Us to Pray for Peace

And God is calling us to bend over backward, to maintain the unity of the Spirit. To maintain 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.

Ephesians 4:1–6 Leads Us to Pray for Unity

At the same time, Christians who believe the word and are following Jesus, sometimes make political calculations based on those common foundations we all share in scripture. Those political calculations sometimes vary on things that are not clear 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.

Like our unity is around Jesus and what is clear and direct in his word. So when you have a disagreement with another follower of Jesus about something that is not clear and direct in God’s word, it is a sign of health. Maybe it is even something you’re passionate about. It is 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 is good. 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. We need to avoid canceling, distressing, disparaging and deriving. Like we are swimming in toxic, political waters that are poisoning the unity that Jesus desires for his church. Jesus died so that his church might experience life.

This Verse Leads Us to Pray for Humility

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. We want to share 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.

This Verse Leads Us to Pray for Help Loving Others

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. Help us to even share those differences with each other, with humility, and sympathy. Help us to share those differences with affection, patience, kindness, gentleness, tenderness, and selflessness. We pray for speech that’s gracious. Help our speech to be fair. And our speech to be encouraging and edifying. We pray that our speech is never slanderous.

God keep us from all slander. Help us to speak in ways that are seasoned with salt. Help us to bear with one another in love and assume the best in one another by your grace. And help us to care for one another with your attitude, Jesus. 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.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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