United in Action, Attitude, Aim & Agreement
1 I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, 2 with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, 3 endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Eph. 4:1-6
The above passage can be studied in terms of four essential directions of unity. Christians need to be united in action, united in attitude, united in aim and united in agreement. In the local church, if every member is united in these things, there will be a bond of peace that pleases God and that advances the work in the right direction.
First, united in action: "...walk worthy of the calling with which you were called." When the gospel is preached, God is calling sinners out of sin. When a sinner hears the gospel, believes in Christ, repents and obeys the Lord in baptism, the call of the gospel is being answered (Heb. 3:1). If I have answered that call, how should I live after baptism? How should I act? I should walk worthy of the calling with which I was called. I must live as one should live, who has obeyed the gospel. If I live that way, and you live that way -- and all the other members of the local church live this way, the result will be unity. We are united in action. We are acting according to the teachings of the Word of God. "Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ...," (Phil. 1:27).
Second, united in attitude. "... With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love." This all falls in the category we commonly name "attitude." Attitude is about your state of mind; your mental and emotional position - and the expression of that in your daily dealings with events, with people and with God. Christians ought to have the kind of attitude that's described in Ephesians 4:2. Lowly means - you do not esteem yourself above others; you maintain a mature and honest view of yourself; you know well your place (see Rom. 12:3; Phil. 2:3). Gentleness is a mature calmness; a self-controlled manner in dealing with things, people and events. Jesus was gentle (Matt. 11:29). Paul was Gentle (1 Thess. 2:7). Preachers are commanded to be gentle (2 Tim. 2:24-26). Longsuffering has to do with patience under provocation; the opposite of being quick-tempered or impulsive in your negative reactions to others (see this in God, 2 Pet. 3:9). If you maintain a longsuffering disposition, you will bear "with one another in love," thus letting your patience find a practical place in your dealings with people. Think about the great potential when every member of a church develops and grow in these attitudes (see also, Phil. 2:1-5).
Third, united in aim: "... Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." Unity in the local church is something that requires effort. You have to see the value of it, understand that God desires it, want it yourself and do the personal work to advance it. From time to time through 32 years of preaching, I have observed people in local churches who simply did not care about the welfare, needs or unity of the congregation. They would divide the church over their feelings, opinions, preferences or false doctrines; or their favoritism for a man or group. Like those in Corinth, they place human wisdom above divine. We must shun that, take the resources provided by the Holy Spirit in the Word and do the work, with each individual devoted to the unity of the Spirit (see also, Eph. 4:16). This may sometimes require that we oppose evil, false intrusions (Rom. 16:17,18; Titus 1:11, 3:10).
Fourth, united in agreement. In every local church there are different personality types; different levels of growth; a variety of opinions in matters of individual liberty; various economic levels and very different backgrounds (culture, environment, experience). Unity does not mean we must all become exactly alike! Our variety gives richness to our work and our existence. But, as Christians, there are certain basic, fundamental things we share; we agree on. These things tie us together in the activity of our faith toward God: "there is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all and in you all." However different we may be in a variety of secular ways, there is a spiritual and practical unity we enjoy - based on this common bond.
If every member of the local church will learn this passage, accept it as written in the context and put it into practice - the local church becomes a beautiful place of peace, where God's work can be done in God's way.
By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 9.7, July 2002