Unity in Christ: A Look AheadDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
I have spent the last three reflections focusing on the "mystery" of God's will, his plan "to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ" (1:10). Before I move on in Ephesians, I thought it might be helpful to look ahead and see how the cosmic unity in 1:10 will be fleshed out in the rest of the book.
Take Ephesians 2, for example. In this chapter, we learn that we are saved by grace through faith (2:8). Yet the work of Christ accomplishes more than the salvation of individuals. In the second half of the chapter, we see that the cross destroyed the division between Jews and Greeks (2:14). Christ's purpose was "to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace" (2:15). Thus, the unity of 1:10 takes the specific form of unity among formerly divided people, Jews and Greeks in particular.
In Ephesians 3, Paul speaks of the "mystery of Christ" as the fact that "the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus" (3:5-6). As the church lives out this unity, God's wisdom is made known to the whole cosmos (3:10). The actualized unity among Christians, therefore, becomes the central demonstration of the truth of the Gospel and the success of God's plan for the cosmos.
In Ephesians 4, we discover how we are to live in light of God's effort to unify all things in Christ. We are to "live a life worthy of the calling" we have received (4:1). In particular, we are to "[m]ake every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (4:3). The theological truth of unity in Christ should be our passion and our commitment, not just in what we believe, but in how we act in the world.
I could say more about how the vision of unity in 1:10 is fleshed out in the rest of Ephesians. Indeed, I'll be able to do this very thing as we make our way through this book together. For now, I simply want you to see that the central mystery of God, his plan to unite all things in Christ, isn't just lofty theology that makes no earthly difference. In fact, this mystery revealed in Christ has everything to do with who we are as God's people and how we are to live each day in the world.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: As you think of God's plan to unite all things in Christ, how might this impact the way you live, if at all? If unity among Christians is so important, why are we so often disunited? How might you live out a vision of unity in your life today?
PRAYER: Gracious God, you have revealed the mystery of your will, your plan to unite all things in Christ. Help me to understand more of what this means. Help me to begin to grasp the implications of this amazing truth for my life. May I live today in light of the unity you have forged and are forging in Christ. Amen.
Images sourced via Creative Commons.