Spiritual Unity, Part 2
Does unity mean uniformity? In other words, does unity simply mean that we all think alike, act alike, look alike, or have the same abilities? I think the answer to these questions would be an easy, "no." Yet, we so often, whether we realize it or not, begin to define unity based on our own habits or mannerisms. The Bible actually gives us a different picture of unity. It shows us that unity looks like a number of different kinds of people (different gifts, different backgrounds, people who look different, etc.) coming together for a singular purpose.
This passage in Ephesians chapter 4 gives us a picture of this kind of unity. Paul reminds his readers that Christ has graciously given people within the church gifts: "But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift." Notice one of the key words: grace! It is grace that Jesus gives gifts for the building up of His Church. Have you ever seen your gift as Christ's grace toward you? Because these gifts are His grace showered on us, He gets to determine how we use them.
One of the purposes for which God has given gifts to the church is to equip His people for ministry. Verses 11-12 say it like this: "And he (God) gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ..." In other words, one of the primary functions of leaders within the church is to equip the congregation for "doing ministry." Ministry is not only the job of church leaders. It is the task of every Christian. Every Christian must be about the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Every Christian must be proclaiming the Gospel and making disciples.
The ultimate goal of this equipping is that we all would grow into "the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." Every part of us, individually and corporately as a church, is meant to be filled up with Christ. Jesus is the end goal for which all things exist. The goal is that all the world would glorify Jesus. Habakkuk 2:14 says: "For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea."
As for the people within the church, the goal of these gifts is that they would grow in maturity and unity. And the same is true for us. We are "to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ..." Christ is the perfect "church member." He gives us the ultimate view of what we are to be. Therefore, the goal for all of us is to look more and more like Jesus.
At the outset, this looks to be an impossible task. How can I look like Jesus? How can our churches look like Jesus? On our own, that is absolutely impossible! But with the strength of God working through the power of His Spirit (Ephesians 3:14-21), we are able to grow in this maturity and unity. To be sure, none of us perfectly reach that this side of heaven. But we will grow and grow and look more and more like Jesus, both individually and corporately.
Christ is using us through His power and through the gifts He has given us so that He would be glorified above all else and so that we would grow in our maturity and unity. True spiritual unity means using our diverse gifts (and there are many different ways to serve Christ!) for the sake of the one goal of Christ's glorification and the maturity of the church. May it be so among us, Machias Valley Baptist Church.
Sermon Series: Ephesians: Church Alive In Christ