Therefore, I, the prisoner of the Lord, exhort you to walk worthily of the calling in which you were called, with all humility and meekness, with long-suffering, bearing with one another in love; being eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1
Being Eager – “Yeah, I know they’re Christians, but they have such a messed up theology. I just don’t have anything in common with them.”
“My church doesn’t believe what they teach. We don’t have anything to do with those people. They’re legalists.”
“I really just don’t understand why they can’t see the truth. If they only heard our pastor, then they would certainly change their minds.”
Ever hear anything like this? Ever say anything like this? Paul would have been appalled. He pleaded for unity and expected those who are true followers of the Way to be eager to keep unity in the bond of peace. The Greek is a single verb, spoudazontes. It’s quite an interesting word. The root is spoude. You can think of it as the Greek word for speed. It means “to urge, to make haste, to be zealous, to speed toward the goal.” If Paul were an Italian, this would be the model of his Lamborghini. “I urge you to speed toward unity. Get there as quickly as you can.” That’s Paul vision. Is it yours?
It’s so easy (and so tempting) to let things divide us. How much simpler it is to dismiss those who don’t see eye to eye with us. They’re Baptists or Methodists or Pentecostals or (heaven forbid) Catholics. Did you ever wonder why Paul never mentions any of these divisions within the body? It’s obvious. None of them existed when Paul wrote. Not a single one of the “true” faiths came into being until the church spent 1500 years battering itself to death with doctrine. The only outsiders Paul concerned himself with were those who denied the Yeshua was the Messiah. Nearly everything else was open to healthy debate. It has always been that way in Judaism. Debate was not a problem for Paul. Differences of opinion were not a problem for Paul. The only problem was acknowledging that God’s grace through the Messiah was the only Way. Paul put his efforts into what mattered for unity. The rest was just nice to know.
Of course, we’re much smarter than Paul, aren’t we? We have a corner on truth. After all, Paul was just a confused Jew. We know better. We have a thousand years of doctrine. We think unity means being conformed to exactly what I believe.
Do you ever wonder why, when we gather in those buildings with steeples, we surround ourselves with people who think like we do, speak like we do, act like we do and don’t rock the boat? Is conformity unity? Or did Paul have something a little grander in mind? What are you speeding toward today? Do you expect everyone to drive the same car?
Topical Index: unity, spoude, diversity, debate, Ephesians 4:1