“…Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3
In John 17 Jesus is praying not only for his disciples that are with him but for everyone that will believe as a result of their witness. So, in a very real sense, Jesus is praying for you and me too. And what is he praying for? That we many be one, united, just like Jesus and the Father are.
I think it’s instructive to note that Jesus isn’t telling his disciples that they need to work on building unity. No, he’s praying that the Father will bless us with unity because if this oneness will ever be ours it will, like so many other important things in our lives, only come as a gift from God.
The Apostle Paul reflects this truth, in our focus text, when he writes that he’s, “Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit…” Notice he says he’s attempting to “keep” not “make” unity. And also notice that when he identifies the unity he’s trying to keep he also qualifies the object of his efforts as being “of the Spirit.” In fact, before the Apostle lists a variety of unique ways in which the Spirit works in our lives differently he first, very powerfully, drives home the point that we are being forged by the Spirit into a loving, peace filled church.
“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.” Ephesians 4:4-6
Today, there’s a lot of focus on plurality, acceptance of diversity, accommodation for differences, and the rights of the individual. And while I believe that there is some value in recognizing the unique beauty that can come from each one of us; I believe that we need to focus much more effort on making sure that the unity that the Spirit is blessing the church with is preserved by us. In giving us the Fruit of the Spirit we’ve even been given all the tools necessary for this task.
And if you’re worried about your individuality consider this. In the same way that the human body beautifully celebrates the contributions of its various parts by the way they work so wonderfully together. The importance of our uniquenesses will be best celebrated if Christ’s unity is first nurtured in us