Many Parents hope that their children will grow up and adopt the values and love shown in the family home. It’s not always the case, in fact it would seem more and more these days such is far from reality, but I suspect it is still the ideal for many parents. There’s a quiet sense of pride to see children grow, and succeed, especially in areas the parent is passionate about. To see them become independent people, yet at the same time bear resemblance to the family from where they came. It’s just as much a joy to see this pass onto grandchildren as well.
Yet we live in a world where this is far from the norm. We seem to be more and more fragmented as time goes by. Families fight and bicker, couples argue about almost anything, children reject their parents, and families are fragmented with confused issues of gender and self-consumed desires. It seems to be no different in the church. We seem to have become a fragmented community, more concerned about what we can get out of church than what we can do to contribute to the family Christ has made. We seem to be fixated on all sorts of seemingly irrelevant issues and polarise ourselves against those who may see it differently. The unity that makes a healthy and happy family is missing not just from families, but from the church itself.
Paul begins ch.4 of Ephesians with a powerful statement on unity. Based on his previous chapters, he urges the Ephesian church to live the life to which the Spirit has called them. To be united is to reflect the one who unites us in the first place. This is our creed – the unity of God and the live to which we are called. In this he gives spiritual leadership to the church, to make themselves redundant by creating mini leaders, but to draw the body together as one so we may become people mature in our faith. The goal of the church, being the fulness of Him who dwells in her, is to become like Him, namely Jesus. Paul is quite explicit in this passage, urging the Ephesian church to move beyond the self, and to realise the power in unity as we grow and build up the church in love.
In a world of great disunity, the church cannot afford to be fragmented. We need to learn how to live together in humility and gentleness, patiently bearing with one another in love. Our goal must always be to maintain the unity of the Spirit. That’s why we have Pastors, not so they can do the work of the church, but so they can demonstrate what it means to live a life such as this. So that through their ministry they can empower the church to be servants of grace. So, they can build up the body of Christ in unity and faith, so members of the body can mature in their faith. It is not an easy task to achieve, which is why it is not one to be frivolously sought after. The emphasis is always to speak the truth in love, even when that truth cuts to the core of our being, and to point people to the growth required as together we mature into Christ’s image in the world.
In a fragmented world, where almost every structure of society is being deconstructed into a quagmire of chaos and confusion, we need the church to be united as it has never been before. We have a mighty call, to stand apart from the world and show to the world what it looks like when God unites people in His Son. It is an awesome responsibility and opportunity, that cannot be left simply to the Pastor or a few enthusiastic people. It is a task for all baptised into Christ to stand united, grow into the image of Christ, and present to the world the power of love evident when such unity is at work.