Come to the Lord in a spirit of confession and humility as you read today’s passage.
Unity and maturity in the body of Christ
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. 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.
At times of fake news and accelerating cycles of news, politicians’ inconsistencies barely raise an eyebrow. But, of course, consistency matters.
Verse 1. On the basis of everything so far, Paul explains the difference it makes. Whereas previously he was a ‘prisoner of Christ’ now he is a prisoner for Christ (3:1; v 1). Paul’s suffering is no sign of a divine plan derailed. This is a crucial verse. We are to be worthy of our calling: we live a life for God because of what God has already done for us, not in order to earn that calling. That’s the difference between grace and works, between joyful confidence and crushing insecurity.
Verses 2,3. Love is central. How might things have gone differently for you the last week if you had managed to follow these commands? Why is Christian unity linked to the Holy Spirit here? How does this help us understand how to follow the commands?
Verses 4–6. Christian unity is no optional extra. Not only are we to be consistent with the gospel calling we received, we are to be consistent with the nature of the One who calls. God is one, so his body, the church, should be one. But notice this unity – ‘one faith, one baptism’ – means that there is no unity without the boundaries of gospel truths.
Pray for the Spirit to make us increasingly whom we have already been called to be.
Deeper Bible study
Forever with the Lord! / Amen, so let it be! / Life from his death is in that word. / ’Tis immortality.’1
The end of what we call chapter 3 concludes Paul’s passionate, hymn-like affirmation of the power and presence of the eternal God with a resounding amen. In the original unbroken and unpunctuated Greek, the second word after amen is therefore. Our modern chapter division has separated the words by white space, an intrusive heading and a large number 4. When read in my church every third August, amen and therefore are separated by a whole week! The NIV loses the point altogether, using then, a weaker word, and placing it further along in the sentence. One of Paul’s techniques was to follow a doxology with therefore.2 There are consequences! We have just been assured of the possibility of being totally filled with all the love of Christ through the presence of our indescribably glorious and eternal God.3 Such a wonderful reality cannot be left hanging in the air. Something must follow. If the eternal God dwells within us, there are consequences for how we should then live.
We who belong to God, we who are filled with the love of Christ, we who are children of the one Father, must live so that this is evident in our lives. We have been fathered by the everlasting God,4 who thought his people into being before the world began.5 We are to be humble, gentle and forgiving (v 2). We must show the world that we are united in one body, bonded together as people of peace (v 3). We are one in every possible way. The writer heaps word upon word – one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God who is the one Father of us all. Our God fills the universe, pervading all that is, glorious and immense, yet our God still wants to dwell within each of us.
Come, eternal God. Fill us with yourself, that we may truly be one with all your people everywhere, within whom you also dwell.
Bible in a year
Read the Bible in a year: Mark 3; Colossians 1
Pray for Scripture Union
Pray that the Development Hub team will work efficiently and effectively under the leadership of Gemma Willis. Ask God to inspire their creativity as they seek to connect with the 95 and for their next Creative Collective gathering planed for the autumn.