Summary: Part two of a series on Church unity.
One: the Loneliest Number
February 10, 2013
I’m not sure how many of you remember a group named Three Dog Night. This is what they looked like and what they wore when they were popular. They were popular way back in the late 60's, early 70's.
Just so you know how old they are, this is what they look like today. They had some great songs, like Jeremiah was a bullfrog. One of my old favorites. Anyways, they had a song called One is the loneliest number. . The first stanza went like this,
One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do
Two can be as bad as one
It's the loneliest number since the number one
It isn’t an uplifting song. But there’s truth to what they’re saying. 1 can be a very lonely number. Yet, one of the beauties of the church, and one of the selling points of the early church was their ability to work together and care for one another.
Last week we began looking at the what the church is, and we’re focusing on the words of Paul to the church in Ephesus. Let’s look at what Paul said last week ~
1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. – Ephesians 4:1-3
Paul reminds us to make every effort to keep the unity, and calls us to be completely humble, gentle, patient and to bear with one another in love. So, that’s our ending point from last week, as Paul continues this week in verses 4-6. He tells us ~
4 There is ONE body and ONE Spirit—just as you were called to ONE hope when you were called —
5 ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism; 6 ONE God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6
This passage is really pretty straightforward. But we can get caught in the details and miss the big picture of what God wants for the church. There’s a key word in this passage. Anyone take a guess at what that word is?
ONE! The key word in this passage is obviously the word ONE! It indicates something that’s united, not something that consists of separate parts. It’s a word which would be applied to one team, but not to an individual player who are on that team. For example, I could say Indianapolis has one football team called the Colts, but I couldn’t use it to say that Andrew Luck is one player on that team. The word ONE conveys a sense of unity.
Paul uses the word ONE seven times in this passage; as he describes 7 aspects of Christianity believers have in common that make us one unified body. I believe the potential and hope is that these 7 aspects have more of a unifying glue and go deeper than even many of our family relationships. After all, you choose to be here, but you didn’t choose your family. If you want to be part of the fellowship of your family, you don’t always get to choose who you put up with.
But in the church world, we do choose. We can decide we want to be here or there, or even nowhere for that matter.
Paul groups these in a manner that reveals the work of all 3 parts of the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each aspect of the Trinity lives in perfect harmony with one another. In a community of greater humility, servanthood, mutual submission, love and power than we can imagine. No wonder we long for heaven.
For example, the Holy Spirit points to Jesus Christ. In an article on the trinity, Dale Bruner wrote about what he called the “shyness” of the Holy Spirit. Because the Holy Spirit never calls attention to Himself, but rather comes in the name of the Son, and gives glory to the Son.
And Jesus didn’t go around calling attention to Himself either. Instead, He submitted to the Spirit who led Him into the wilderness and to His Father, proclaiming, “Not my will but yours be done.”
And even the Father, both at the baptism of Jesus and at the Transfiguration, commanded the people to listen to His Son, Jesus.
Let’s look at what Paul wrote ~ 4 There is ONE body and ONE Spirit — just as you were called to ONE hope when you were called —
Remember, it’s the Holy Spirit who causes us to see our need for a Savior by convicting us of our sinfulness.