Making God’s Wisdom Known Through Our UnityDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In yesterday's reflection, I asked the question: How can the church make God's multi-colored wisdom known to the world? I suggested that one obvious way was for the church, including you and me, to share with our neighbors the good news of how God is unifying all things through Christ. We make God's plan known by speaking of it honestly, humbly, and boldly.
Yet, our words will ring hollow if they are just words. Human beings and, indeed, the power that fills the cosmos, will not be inclined to believe our message unless they see evidence of its truth in our lives.
How do we live out the multi-colored wisdom of God? How do we demonstrate the truth of the gospel in our daily lives? As we'll see down the road a piece, the final three chapters of Ephesians provide ample answers to these questions. Today, however, I want to highlight one crucial aspect of gospel-displaying living.
If, as we saw in Ephesians 1:10, God's big plan is "to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ," then we will showcase this plan if we live in unity with others, especially in the church. In fact, as we learned from the latter half of Ephesians 2, the unity of Jews and Gentiles in the church is a direct result of the reconciling impact of the cross. The unity of the church, therefore, serves as signpost for what God is doing throughout the cosmos.
The first verses of Ephesians 4 underscore the importance of embodying the unity forged through the cross. In these verses, Paul calls us to "live a life worthy of the calling [we] have received" (4:1). How? By being humble, gentle, patient, and forbearing, by making "every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (4:2-3). Paul begins with this rousing call to seek unity among God's people because our unity flows from the saving work of Christ and displays to the cosmos the ultimate triumph of God's plan to unite all things in Christ.
As a church member for fifty years and a pastor for twenty-five, I realize that unity is not easily forged or maintained in our congregations. I also realize that immoral behavior and wrong belief can damage the unity of God's people. So I do not mean to sound naïve when suggesting that we should seek Christ-centered solidarity as the people of God. But, as we have seen and will see, the theology of Ephesians carries us to the point of recognizing that our unity as Christians is an essential demonstration of the manifold wisdom of God.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Can you see how the unity of God's people demonstrates the truth of the gospel? How, in your life, do you seek to promote the unity of the church? What do you find difficult about this effort?
PRAYER: Gracious God, you have called us as your people to make known to the cosmos your manifold wisdom, your plan to unite all things in Christ. As much as we might feel nervous about speaking of this wisdom to those who don't know it, this duty is much easier than the call to embody unity in our life as the church. So many things threaten to break us apart, to fill our common life with discord and disharmony. Often, we contribute to the disunity, rather than the unity of your church. Forgive us, Lord.
Though I could easily distract myself with a theoretical discussion of what church unity ought to be or why it is so elusive, help me to focus in very practical ways on what I can do to foster unity among your people. Help me to be an agent of reconciliation in my relationships, especially my relationships with my sisters and brothers in my church. May I make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit as I live my life each day. Amen.
P.S. from Mark - I'm excited to let you know about a new video just published by The High Calling, the host of my Daily Reflections. It's called "A Day with Greg Buell," and is both deeply moving and thought-provoking. I know you'll be glad you watched this video. Plus, you can help us get out the word by letting others know about it (through email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Thanks to my colleague, Dan Roloff, the executive producer of this video, and to his video team, Nathan Clarke and John Harrison, for their fine work. You can view "A Day with Greg Buell" at this link. You can see all of The High Calling's videos at our YouTube channel.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge Youth Camp, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.