So while we must be aware that we experience division (as hinted at in Ephesians 4:1-4), the reality is that our experience is not our reality! We are not divided, but we have become family with a common purpose (3:19-21). The apostle Paul is very much aware that a chasm exists at times between reality and experience and so he reminds us that we must be “eager to maintain” our unity. In other words, we are not called to create unity out of division; rather we must seek to preserve unity rather than tear apart what God has joined together.
Many of us have attended a wedding ceremony where the officiating minister reminded and exhorted us that no one should tear apart what God has joined together. And if that is true of the relationship of a husband and wife, which only mirrors the relationship between Jesus and the church, how much more so must we avoid seeking division in the church?
So what must happen if our experience and reality are going to match? How can we make sure that unity is not only our theory, but our practice? Paul reminds us that the fusing of experience and reality is ultimately the work of God. God has given his grace to different people in the church (4:7), grace that calls and enables the leaders in a church to equip every member of the church to do ministry, ministry that will strengthen the church “until we all attain to the unity of the faith…” (4:13). In other words, the way in which we experience unity is by a magnificent work of God’s grace that compels church leaders to not be content to do all the work of ministry themselves, but to encourage and equip every single person in the church to minister to one another.
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