WEDNESDAY IN THE WORD April 12, 2023
Unity in the Body of Christ
Ephesians 4:1-7 NRSV
It’s a fact that Church is not perfect. Church history is littered with abuses, and fraught with schisms over weighty and not-so-weighty disputes. Yet, as the Church we are defined not by our merits, but by the One who is the Head of the Church, which is His Body. Whether or not we have anything to offer—the world begins by Christ having everything to offer the world. And the Good News we boldly proclaim, Jesus is Good News for the whole world, not just the Church. The Church is that community of people who respond to the Good News and commit themselves to Christ to become one Body with each other, the Body of Christ. But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. v.7
Church life has deep roots across space and time. It’s not merely that we have time-honored prayers and spiritual transformation, rather, it’s the expressions of the more fundamental bonds of unity that come out of our being one Body committed to model in His likeness for no other reason than Christ. And we share this embodiment with the realization of common life that so many desperately seek.
We have the opportunity in our relationships of coming together in voluntary expression, choosing to follow Christ of course. And, we also commit to “holiness as an unselfconscious getting used to others” such that, no matter who they are and no matter who we are, because of Christ we invite each other into community, together.
In many ways, this vision of church life is radically at odds with our world, and even with the conception many of us may have. Many cultures in the 21st century operate on a basic principle that no one should have to be in community with people they don’t want to be in community with. Oh, contrary! If we are a body of committed believers being transformed and excelling in its pursuit of God’s future, then we are in community with God’s vision, a liturgical bond because Christ wants to be in community with each and every one of us. In our continual practices, we express God’s vision. So, what practices help you stay grounded?
Quite often when stewardship asks why we pledge tithes to the church, the response is in the Greek word, “ekkllesia”, meaning outward calling. Christ is always available, chooses us and forgives us. He has called us to be the Church, not because of who we are. We are not members of the Body of Christ by right, as if we were entitled to God’s grace, nor are we members by merit, as if we impressed God with our righteousness. We respond because we willingly serve, minister to the need, give accordingly to continue the ministry of Christ. And because we are called, we demonstrate powerfully where we can be ambassadors of Christ to advocate for the importance of availability, stability, and unity. And because who we are and whose we are, our main concern is continuing to love and serve with each other in Christ, despite disagreement, despite circumstantial backgrounds, despite a confusion of languages, despite our cultural differences and because we keep striving to serve in God’s vision.
“There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one, Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-5)
Let us be the Church, by covenanting to love one another as Christ has first loved us. And then, let us be the Church in the world, loving and serving in such a way that the world might come to us and say, “Hey, teach us how to be more like you, more like this Christ you follow.” Amen!