Posts Tagged ‘Ephesians 4:16’

Unity within diversity: Let the Church rise

August 29, 2017

Galatians 3--28

The emphasis of Verse of the Day for August 29, 2017 is on the Body of Christ, which is described in Galatians 3:28 in the Amplified Bible:

There is [now no distinction in regard to salvation] neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you [who believe] are all one in Christ Jesus [no one can claim a spiritual superiority].

God, our Father, is one and all that He has created is an expression of oneness or unity regarding all of humanity:

Acts 17:26 (Holman Christian Standard):

From one man He has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live

The Church is the ultimate expression of oneness or unity of purpose, of unity within diversity and diversity within unity.

When the Church, the Body of Christ, those called out among Jews and Gentiles, emerged as a new entity on the Day of Pentecost, God provided an amazing display of diversity. When those who waited for the promise of the Father that Jesus Christ spoke of as he departed to heaven, a remarkable gathering of individuals came to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost:

Now there were then residing in Jerusalem Jews, devout and God-fearing men from every country under heaven (Acts 2:5).

Although God demonstrates diversity in all of His creation, He also desires a demonstration of unity within that diversity. The Church, the collective body of believers, who have confessed Jesus Christ as Lord and who endeavor to live out the precepts and principles of their faith also illustrate this concept. One of the terms used to describe this example of diversity is “the mystery,” a metaphor used to describe the union of Jew and Gentile into one new man, the Body of Jesus Christ, the quintessential example of unity within diversity.

The Scriptures reveal God’s desire for unity among believers, that there be no divisions, literally, no splits, breaches, or schisms, for we have been called in one body. Believers are to strive to remain unified within the Body of Christ: Instead of being divided, the body of believers is to be unified, “perfectly joined together,” a term derived from the Greek word meaning to repair, to mend, to reunite and make perfect what has been broken. We are familiar with the colloquial expression: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” The converse would also hold true: “If it’s broken, then fix it.” Certainly this would apply to the Body of Christ, which is to be unified and not fractured nor divided, just as the human body is designed to be whole. Ephesians 4:16 describes God’s divine design:

From Him the whole body [the church, in all its various parts], joined and knitted firmly together by what every joint supplies, when each part is working properly, causes the body to grow and mature, building itself up in [unselfish] love.

The love of God is to be the hallmark that identifies believers, individually and corporately, as members of the Body of Christ. The love of God when activated and boldly demonstrated can be a life-changing force in any community.

Twelve years ago, almost to the day, Hurricane Katrina, one of the costliest natural disasters and one of the five deadliest hurricanes in the history of the United States, ravaged New Orleans and other areas of the Gulf Coast.  At that time the Church came together not only to make a difference, but by their selfless acts of loving service, the Church became the difference in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Today, as Hurricane Matthew with its heavy rains and flooding continues to engulf Houston and other areas of Texas. Once again, the Church will rise to the occasion and be the life-transforming force that it was designed to be.

The video performed by Jonathan Stockstill, “Let the Church Rise,” displays a specific instance where the church rose to the occasion and made a significant difference in a disastrous situation. America, indeed, the whole world continues to be engulfed with endless challenges that seek to overwhelm us. During these trying times, once more, “Let the Church Rise.”

We are one body

August 26, 2016

Romans 12--4-5

In Romans 12:4-5 in the Message Bible we find the Verse of the Day for August 26, 2016:

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.

A previous blog entry focusing on these same verses pointed out the correspondence between a natural body and a spiritual body:

1 Corinthians 15:44 (AMP):

44 it is sown a natural body [mortal, suited to earth], it is raised a spiritual body [immortal, suited to heaven]. As surely as there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body

Ephesians chapters 2 and 3 also speak of the “mystery of the one body—the Church—the Body of Christ.” In discussing this concept of the one body, we mentioned that “Everybody is somebody in the Body.” We also shared a well-known selection that is related to the topic: “The Parable of 4 People—The Parable of Responsibility.” This selection by an unknown author is a condensed version of Charles Osgood’s “A Poem about Responsibility”:

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody were members of a “Church.”

There was an important job to do, and Everybody was asked to do it.

Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody would have done it, but Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry because it was Everybody’s job.

Everybody thought Anybody would do it, but Nobody realized that Anybody wouldn’t do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody, when Nobody did, what Anybody could have done.

In closing out our discussion of the “one body,” I thought of the lyrics to the Children’s Ministry song:

“We are all members of the Body of Christ”

Sons of God by birthright.

We are chosen gems, polished by God and His Word.

We are beautiful in God’s sight.

Ephesians 4:16 (NLT) also speaks of the Church as the Body of Christ:

16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Kevin Conner in his book The Church in the New Testament brings out these points:

  • Every member of the church is part of God’s family.
  • Members are a building with Christ being the chief cornerstone.
  • Each member is described as the body, all having special parts and functions.
  • God has given each Christian a special gift. This means each person has talents and abilities that can be used to help other believers and advance the Kingdom of God.

Conner closes out the discussion by pointing out the significance of Romans 12:4-5, as revealed in the New Living Translation:

Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function,

so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

Another song also tells us:

Remember we are all members of the Body;

Each one has a special place.

We try to build up everybody

For we are members of one another,

saved by grace.

To summarize our discussion, Tom Inglis offers a lively rendition of “We are One Body”

Perfectly joined together

May 21, 2016

1_Corinthians_1-10

The Verse of the Day for yesterday focused on being of “one mind,” and the Verse of the Day for today, May 21, 2016, could be considered a second verse of the same song calling for unity in the One Body. Take a look at this request:

1 Corinthians 1:10 [Amplified]

But I urge and entreat you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in perfect harmony and full agreement in what you say, and that there be no dissensions or factions or divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in your common understanding and in your opinions and judgments.

The Darby Bible offers a similar translation:

 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all say the same thing, and that there be not among you divisions; but that ye be perfectly united in the same mind and in the same opinion.

The verse expresses God’s desire for unity among believers, that there be no divisions, literally, no splits, breaches, or schisms, for we have been called in one body. Ephesians 4:3-6 (AMP) also remind believers to strive to remain unified within the Body of Christ:

 Make every effort to keep the oneness of the Spirit in the bond of peace [each individual working together to make the whole successful]. There is one body [of believers] and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when called [to salvation] — one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all who is [sovereign] over all and [working] through all and [living] in all.

Instead of being divided, the body of believers is to be unified, perfectly joined together. The term “joined together” is derived from the Greek word meaning to repair, to mend, to reunite and make perfect what has been broken. We are familiar with the colloquial expression: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” The converse would also hold true: “If it’s broken, then fix it!” Certainly this would apply to the Body of Christ, which is to be unified and not fractured nor divided, just as the human body is designed to be whole. Ephesians 4:16(AMP) speaks of the one body following the example set by Jesus Christ:

15 But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ. 16 From Him the whole body [the church, in all its various parts], joined and knitted firmly together by what every joint supplies, when each part is working properly, causes the body to grow and mature, building itself up in [unselfish] love

In reflecting upon the Verse of the Day, my mind goes back to 1971 when I was in the beginning stages of my development as a teacher and writer. I remember being asked to produce a writing sample, and I wrote a brief commentary on 1 Corinthians 1:10. Since that time, I have endeavored to study and teach the Word of God, as an expression of my gratitude to my Heavenly Father, who preserved me and kept me while I served in the US Army during the Vietnam era. Like countless young people and adults, I rode the crest of the Jesus Revolution, the revival movement that swept the nation during the 1960s and 70s. One of the popular Christian songs considered to be an anthem of that unforgettable time-frame captures the essence of the message of today’s blog entry: “We Are One in the Spirit / By Our Love” offered by the Mark Swayze Band.