“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.” – Ephesians 4:4-6
In the preceding verses, Paul issued a tall order to God’s children: walk with humility, gentleness, patience, and bear with one another in love. While these qualities were despised in Roman culture, Jesus demonstrated them throughout his life and death. Now, his followers were called to demonstrate them in the church, their homes, and their communities. I suspect the Ephesians squirmed when they read this passage, just as we do today. After all, these traits are not exactly inherent to human beings. They are, however, intrinsic qualities of the Holy Spirit that dwells and works within God’s children.
Paul assured the Ephesians that, through the Holy Spirit, they could embrace humility in a world that valued ego and pride. Through the Spirit, they could respond to the weakness and needs of others with gentleness, rather than disdain or judgment. They could display God’s patience toward those who were slow to change or embrace the faith. They could even show patience in their own suffering, trials, and tribulations. That was profound!
Lastly, through the Holy Spirit, they could bear with one another in love. There will always be some people who are easy for us to love and others who require the work of the Spirit in our hearts. Rick Warren calls the latter “extra grace required people.” They irk us, get under our skin, and make us want to lash out or run and hide. However, Paul says to move out of the flesh and into the Spirit – love when it is hard; love when you want to hate; love when it hurts. Bearing with one another means staying in relationship and community, becoming one through the Spirit.
Paul had experienced the extravagant love of Christ, and he knew that receiving such a gift demanded he share it with others. The same is true for his readers, then and now. While the world focuses on the differences and divisions between us, God calls his children to unite in his love, to form one body through the Holy Spirit. We are to set aside our differences and embrace the fundamental truths: “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (v. 6).
Reflect and Respond:
How are you working to reconcile and unite the people of God? What more might he be calling you to do today? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a "gift" who will guide us, lead us, and empower us. Yet many believers don't experience the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. This unique Christian Bible study provides a space in which we can explore what it truly means to "walk in the Spirit" on a daily basis. The Spirit-Filled Life small-group curriculum centers on a 6-part video teaching series examining the life-giving and creative work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Begin to experience the gift today!
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