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. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. – Ephesians 4:1-7
As the country deacon was known to have said, “The preacher done gone and quit preachin’ and went to meddlin’.” Paul makes that leap here when he switches from doctrinal instruction to practical application. The point Paul is making in Chapter 4 of Ephesians is one of my pet peeves, the failure to recognize that there is only one body of Christ and we are all called to treat one another with respect as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Over the length of my life, I have had the good fortune to be exposed to several different expressions of the body of Christ. I was born into an Evangelical Quaker family, was exposed shortly to a United Presbyterian Church followed by a United Methodist Church, an Assembly of God Church, an independent Charismatic church, a parachurch organization called the Interfaith Renewal Ministry, the Foursquare Church and the Presbyterian Church in America and have rubbed shoulders with many other segments of the body of Christ along the way. Every one of these expressions of the body of Christ contains true blood bought dedicated believers in Jesus Christ. This is also true of others with whom I have not had direct involvement.
I get very agitated when I witness one segment of the body of Christ belittling another for various differences. For example, belittling one group for their lack of education or vice versa belittling the educated clergy as the frozen chosen who can’t have any real faith or the liturgical saints bad mouthing the more free-wheeling charismatic worship types, etc. Regardless of the segment of the body of Christ you belong to, Paul says, “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Why does he say this?
Because, “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.”
The portion of Ephesians 4 I quoted above is just the start of the argument that the Apostle makes through the whole chapter. Toward the end of the chapter in verse 30, he says, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.” Disrespecting our brothers and sisters in Christ in another segment of the body of Christ grieves the Holy Spirit. It is sinful, and to the extent that we are guilty of this kind of disrespect, we are called upon to repent.
It is the Lord Jesus whom we are disrespecting when we act in such an ungodly fashion.
Remember the glorious truths Paul has shared with us in the earlier chapters of Ephesians about the immeasurable greatness of his power, the immeasurable riches of grace, and the unsearchable riches of Christ. All of this applies to all of the body of Christ, every segment, including those whom we in our arrogance may have belittled. Do not disrespect those for whom Christ died and provided all of these riches that are beyond all that we can ask or think.
As John says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7