One is a powerful number. One star in the sky and we anticipate more. One bird’s song in the morning will invite others. One family seeking God on His terms, and a nation is born (consider Abraham and others). One child willing to be a friend gives hope to the new student. One seed planted in the prepared ground becomes many more at harvest.
Ephesians four is all about unity in the Body of Christ. There is peace in unity. Love and unity go hand in hand. It should be obvious that a body has unity. In Romans 12 and I Corinthians 12 we are told about the body being made of many parts but it is one.
“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” (Romans 12:4-5 ESV)
Beginning with I Corinthians 12:12 , Paul makes a playful and abrupt statement about the unity of the physical body. This is a favorite section to read aloud, especially with different voices for the different parts of the body talking to the rest.
“The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” (I Corinthians 12:21 ESV)
Paul is serious. Believers are unified with Christ. God’s Word is clear. There is no division in the body. Its parts should have equal concern for one another (I Corinthians 12:25).
“that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.
Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”
I Corinthians 12:25-27 ESV
In our world there is ache. Jesus came for the people of this wounded world. The Word of God is clear: all people are made in God’s image. All people have sinned against God. Yet, God loved the people who sinned against Him so much that He sent Jesus.
The cross and resurrection of Christ are our life. To those outside, this message is offensive and foolish (I Corinthians 1:18). Why is the world in such a terrible, destructive state? We have sinned.
We, as believers, have received the light of the Lord! It is Him we trust.
If this is truly the case, why on earth does the “Christian” population seem so divided? If one part suffers, we all do. True Christians have oneness:
“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Ephesians 4:4-7
There is no missing this. God calls us, all people, to Himself through Christ. He wants us to be reconciled (in right relationship to Him). Jesus made this possible! It wasn’t by healing the sick, or turning water into wine that Jesus changed the world. He humbled Himself. He chose to die on the cross.
Too many times we “Christians” claim to be in the light when we don’t want our sin exposed. We desire to be filled without admitting to our hunger.
My words will never be enough to express this. My sin – my selfishness, my pride, my disobedience to my parents and to God, my choice to do things my way, my rebellion against God – is what Jesus died on the cross for.
There is no good news (the Gospel) without the bad news (earned separation from God).
I Corinthians 12 ends with an introduction to the “most excellent way” – love. I Corinthians 13 is a popular scripture to have read at a wedding, and rightly so. I am confident that the beauty of that passage is seen more fully as it is lived out. As husband and wife become one flesh. They are wonderfully and mysteriously one. This willing, submissive love (Ephesians 5:32-33) is all about Christ and the church. The love of Christ, in spite of our adultery against Him, compels us to love others. Love is powerful.
Believers bear with one another in love. We are to make every effort to keep the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3). After this statement, Paul reminds us again and again of our oneness in Christ.
Commentator Foulkes says this of Ephesians 4:4:
The love of Christ motivates His people.
God’s people are chosen, royal, of the priesthood, holy, a nation, His own possession!
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” I Peter 2:9
God's love causes believers to love. I John 2:9-10 makes it clear that true Christians do not hate their brothers. "Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. ”
The Church is the Body of Christ. His life, His love, His mercy unites us. We live as His!
There is One Savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. There is only one hope for our broken world. He came, He has sent His Spirit, and He is coming again!
One is a powerful number.
“Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. ”
I Corinthians 12:27
I am so sorry! Again and again I have sinned against you. I don’t deserve your grace or forgiveness. What I deserve is separation from you! Yet, in your mercy you’ve loved me and cleansed me through Christ. Please forgive me for not considering the others in the Church. All of us are one because of Your holy work. Thank you for that reminder today. Please help me to love well and to relieve suffering where I am able to. You are loving to me, the worst of sinners, help me to love the people you place in my life. In Your Holy Name, Amen.
Questions to Ponder:
Why does Paul bring up unity in the Body of Christ so frequently?
How can you help relieve suffering?
What are the blessings of the Gospel?
What is the Gospel? Who can you share the true Gospel with?
Songs on Unity
We All Bleed the Same by Mandisa featuring TobyMac and Kirk Franklin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEzCQBwQkdA
They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love, Jars of Clay version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6CI4qefRAi4
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Eph 4:4–7). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Foulkes, F. (1989). Ephesians: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 10, p. 117). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.