Summary: What is unity? In this passage, we learn what true biblical unity in the church is.
Buzzwords. Who likes buzzwords? Paradigm shift. Synergy. Empowerment. Exit strategy. Wellness. Offshoring. Downsizing. Benchmarking. Mission Critical. Fuzzy logic. We love our buzzwords. But do we always know what we mean when we use a buzzword? Do other people know what we mean? How about this one:
Due to the disconnect particularly as regards to the digital divide emerging between our differing demographics we seek to construct a next generation framework using a fundamental paradigm shift leading to the desired outcome of a win-win situation which going forward will at the end of the day, utilising front end technology and best practice such as webinars, B2B, rich media and and appropriate information logistics as well as utilising best practice real world management techniques, create a holistic approach, keeping in view our event horizon and releasing synergies while touching base with all stakeholders as they are empowered to reach their potential, with particular emphasis on our solutionaries and game-changers, so that the enterprise in our globalised, intergrated society may achieve a seamless transition to a mission critical mindset and thus avoid downsizing and inappropriate offshoring and maintain our edge and critical mass in our customer-centric marketplace going forward.
Buzzwords, we laugh at them. But we all use them! And in the Christian world, we have buzzwords too. Here are some: Callling. Giftings. Unity. Equipping. We use them a lot. Last year, the church was looking for a new pastor who had certain giftings. And a calling. Then you were going to call him. For some reason, you called me. As a church, you want to be equipped. Equipped in your gifitings. And in it all, youd like to see a bit of unity. We use these phrases a lot. But do we always know what they mean? Even if we do, do our listeners know what they mean? Or are they just buzzwords that we use, hoping we know what they mean? Thinking we know what they mean? Assuming the other person knows that they mean?
Today we start with Ephesians 4, which looks at these buzzwords - call, gifts, unity, equipping. And today we look at verses 1-6 which look at call and unity. It looks at other words too. But they arent buzzwords. Words like, humble, patient, gentle. They arent buzzwords. Who wants to be humble, patient and gentle?! So lets dive in and have a look at the first six verses. The words calling, unity as well as humble, patient, gentle.
But before we do lets have a look at a bit of context. Last week we finished off the first section / first half of Ephesians. What was it about? It was about what Christ has done for us. Spritual blessings. Chosen before the foundation of the world. Adopted as His children. Our sins forgiven. We have an inheritance, an eternal inheritance. We have been made alive in Christ taken from death to life. The barrier between us and God and between each other has been broken down. We are part of His church. We are His instrument to make His wisdom made known throughout the heavenly realms. What a privilege! And chapter 3 concluded with what? A prayer! A prayer for what? For power. Power for what? Power to understand the ununderstandable love of God! And strength. Strength for what? Strength so that Christ can live in our hearts! And so that we may be filled with all the fullness of God! Is there anything else we could want? Such a gift. And we were so unworthy to receive it.
Now in the rest of the letter Paul goes on to explain the implications of all this. The implications of the fact that if you are a Christian, God has taken you from death to life, rescued you from sin. Given you an eternal inheritance with Him. Filled you with Christ and put you in the church, which is His people, even His body. His vehicle for making His wisdom known throughout even the heavenly realms as well as on the earth. Yes, there are implications for for this. You cannot become a Christian and remain unchanged. And this is what Paul spends the rest of Ephesians doing - talking about how we should live our lives as Christians.
He starts this second section of the book with the words:
EPH 4:1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
I urge you. This is not an if you feel like it type of urging. Later on in Ephesians 4.17 Paul says, EPH 4:17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
Paul urges us, insists, that our lives change, that they are different as a result of being in Christ. This is not an optional extra. It is not like going to McDonalds, and being urged to buy more when they say, Would you like fries with that? No matter what Ronald McDonald may try and tell you, you dont need to have fries with your Macas meal. But the Christian life is not like McDonalds. God doesnt say, Okay, youve ordered salvation, would you like a changed life, a holy life, with that? And no matter the push, the sales pitch from the Bible, the preacher, it really is optional. Youve got salvation, and if youd like to have a bit extra, well you can order the changed life also if you want it, but if you dont really want it, dont want to pay the extra cost, you can still have the salvation, the ticket to heaven, the fire insurance to escape hell, but its really up to you if you want the changed life.