Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Unity of the Spirit - Ephesians 4:1-16

Pentecost 10
Aug 2, 2015
Fr. Phil Eberhart

The Unity of the Spirit - Eph 4

Turn with me to your reading from Paul's letter to the Ephesians this morning.  Ephesians 4 if you have your bible or a bible on your phone.

This morning I want to do some verse-by-verse exposition from this chapter, because I believe it to be so important for us as Christians today and as a church and a part of the Body of Christ.

Paul begins this chapter by tying it to the prayer and benediction he has just finished in the previous chapter -- one with which we are very familiar.

"Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly above anything we could ask or even think, according to His all surpassing power that works within us -- to Him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus from generation to generation for ever and ever.  Amen!"


Our favorite word!  THEREFORE ... on account of what was just prayed...

I URGE YOU - I Appeal to you, I beg you - Paul uses the exact same word in Rom 12 - which is the verb form of the Name Jesus uses in the Gospels for the Holy Spirit's personal presence in our lives!!  "Parakaleo"

I walk along beside you cheering you on!  

Live a life worthy of what you are called to!  ... a life that is "becoming" to the Christ Jesus that you serve.  After all you are "becoming" like Him !!   and here is a short list, in Paul's ever practical making of lists of behavior for his churches:

The Amplified says it this way:
with complete lowliness of mind (humility) and meekness (unselfishness, gentleness, mildness), with patience, bearing with one another and making allowances because you love one another.
Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.
The list is quite like other lists  in Galatians and in the Colossian letter as well.  Practical lists of the way we are to look to one another and to outsiders who encounter us in our day-to-day walk.
How do people who encounter you, experience Jesus?
And here Paul ends with the phrase,  

again the Amplified helps us with some clarity:
Be eager and strive earnestly to guard and keep the harmony and oneness of [and produced by] the Spirit in the binding power of peace.
Or from The Message:
pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.

This phrase "The Unity of the Spirit" is used only twice in the New Testament, both times in this chapter!  I believe that this is a supernatural unity that is an outgrowth of our being "IN CHRIST" - and what Paul says presently following bears that interpretation out.  But this unity - this BEING ONE - is not something that just happens - it is something we strive for, eagerly, earnestly guarding our harmony - our ONE NESS.
Pouring ourselves out of each other - Jesus called it "Laying down our lives for one another."  

"Alert at noticing differences and quick a mending fences"

Friends, our unity - our one ness is not automatic - have you guessed that by now?  It is something that we must work hard at every day, in every circumstance where we rub one another the "wrong way."  Anyone ever do that to you?

You see, Oneness never shows itself more clearly than when we have an opportunity to be offended - and we don't take it!

"Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

Why?  Because ...  Let's read the next whole sentence together:

Any questions?

We who are experts at dividing, fighting, separating - offending and being offended - We partake of a ONENESS in Christ that is almost unfathomable!

And this ONENESS is shown most profoundly when we discover the giftings that come from our relationship with Jesus Christ -
Look at the next sentence:

Read it again:
But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift.  

Now jump down to verse 11: and continue reading:
(after the parentheses)  The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers,

Now, how many of you believe that those were or are for someone else.  A pastor or preacher, a leader in the church, someone who stand up front here in a suit or a robe?  But not for you?

Now go back up to before the parentheses - and read that line again:
But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ's gift. 

To whom?
Each of us.

Are you an each of us?  Are you?  and you?
We are all "eaches" are we.  These gifts are meant for and are given to "each" of us - that means ALL OF US.

ALL of us have these gifts in varying measure and capacity.

Now let me take a rabbit trail for just a moment...

Are these gifts, like the other gifts of the Holy Spirit, say from 1 Cor 12 or Rom 12?  Well I would say, Yes AND No!
Yes they are from - find their home in - the Holy Spirit!
But NO - these gifts differ as they are "motive" gifts or even "modes" for particular ministries in the Church.  The gifts in Corinthians and Romans are more "in the moment of ministry" gifts = almost "tools" from a Holy Spirit tool box - given in the moment or for a particular season of ministry.

Whereas, these 4 or 5 gifts, however you count them, are internal modes of ministry. They're "motivations" from which we are fashioned and by which we work throughout our lives IN CHRIST - to play our part in the shaping and maturing of the Body of Christ.

For the moment let's count them as 5 motivational giftings:

Imagine a bar or line from left to right:


       OUTWARD ========================== INWARD
             Focus                                 ^                            Focus

Each of these describes a particular way of seeing your calling
and of relating to others both inside and outside the Body of Christ!

Are you always looking outside?  Are you entrepreneurial in your focus?  Are you burning up inside about those who do not know Jesus?  Do you want people to grow in their faith?  Do you want people healed and delivered of troubles, addictions, bad choices?

Each of these reflects a particular part of the spectrum of giftings that Christ has given to be in and through the Church!

Now I want to see the WHY as we land the plane this morning:

As we "rub shoulders" in the Body of Christ - actually its even closer than that - the view here is microscopic - sub dermal.
What is it that is "under your skin?" 

In the Body of Christ, we are all part of that internal reality that is oneness in an amazing diversity.  Paul describes it this way, at the end of our reading:

One of my favorite picture books is "The Amazing Machine!" It's kind of an anatomy book for laymen.  It is fascinating to page through and begin to understand the intricate complexity of our bodies - their internal organs structures, the musculo-skeletal system, the endocrine system, the nerve structrues and the brain - and how it all fits together and works together to form a living, breathing, active, intelligent, caring human life.  One that is infinitely valuable and worth the price that Jesus paid for it!

I need to stop, but I want to stop leaving you wanting more here.
I want us to long for this reality we've read about with all our being!  And not just for us at REZ, but for the whole of the body of Christ, the Kingdom Church that Jesus is working to perfect.

Would you take some time to consider the gifts that God has motivated you with?  Would you look around you to see who you can "rub shoulders" with - who you can catch more of another gifting from?  The gifts are given, my friends, so that we can all "rub one another the RIGHT way!"  Closer to Jesus!

Let us pray:

Dear Jesus, you have given each one of us gifts to serve you in unique and special ways in your Body.  I pray that you would come by Your Spirit and reveal to us - to each of us - the capacity and motivation that You have put inside of us in order that we all together might grow up into the full stature of maturity in Jesus Christ.

Come Holy Spirit and do that work in us that both teaches us our own value in your Body and the value of each and every other part of your Body!  Keep us from a self-seeking nature that becomes cancerous, and give us your Jesus Nature, that lays down our lives for one another, and for the world.

In Jesus Name we pray and for His sake.
Amen.  Amen.

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