One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?
This cute little song from Sesame Street helped young children learn how to notice differences in a series of objects. Last week we talked around what Christian unity looks like, and how unity is not equal to sameness. As you read scripture about Christian unity, there is a celebration of the diversity of gifts, and an acknowledgement that God created the Christian church to be filled with all kinds of different people.
It’s easy though to look at our church and see the human difference. In fact they are not hard to find at all: different ages, preferences, backgrounds, educations, hair colors, styles, and ways of life. Yet Scripture reminds us that our unity is not in our humanness, but in the God who saves us all:
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV
How will you walk in a manner worthy of the calling God has given us? What might maintaining the unity of the body look like? I think that this becomes most challenging when stress, emotions, and anxiety starts to run high, moments where it becomes easy to take our eyes off of the God who saves us all. So next time you find your emotions running high, anxiety creeping in, or stress escalating, take a moment before you speak and act, and ask yourself, will this maintain the unity of the Spirit here? Am I embodying the values in this passage: humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with each other in love? As you reflect on this verse I encourage you to consider how you might grow in your capacity to maintain the unity of the body. Do you have certain triggers, issues, or topics that tend to push you to a place of disunity, frustration, or anger? It is easy to read this passage and think first of all the other people and issues around us, and the people in our lives who need to hear this passage, and overlook our own sin and struggles. Take some time to bring that before God. Reflect on that. Is there lingering sin, pride, bitterness or something else behind that struggle? I believe part of maintain the unity of the body is growing our own maturity and capacity to understand who we are, and to be able to appreciate the diversity of gifts that God brings together and calls His Church.