Jeremy Sarber

Unity in the church body

In Ephesians, Paul goes to great lengths to teach Gentile believers how they became members of the body of Christ. He spends the entirety of Ephesians 2 showing that God is the one who brought them into the church. Never mind the former division between the Jews and Gentiles. Christ has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility (Eph 2:14). Paul says that he has reconciled us both to God in one body through the cross (Eph 2:16).

In Ephesians 3, he calls this reconciliation, the mystery of Christ (Eph 3:4). He says, This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (Eph 3:6). In other words, the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s plan of salvation was a hidden truth for a long time. It was always God’s plan, but the mystery wasn’t fully revealed until Jesus Christ officially broke down the wall of hostility.

Then as we move into Ephesians 4, Paul says this:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:1-6)

Later, he says that the church should be working together to attain unity of the faith and a more mature knowledge of the Son of God (Eph 4:13). We are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped (Eph 4:15-16).

In this letter, unity appears to be the thrust of Paul’s message. A vital though often neglected aspect of our salvation is that Christ has joined together people from all walks of life as one body.

Were you once a Jew? Not anymore. Were you once a Gentile? It doesn’t matter. Christ has made us both one (Eph 2:14). We are his workmanship (Eph 2:10). He has created in himself one new man in place of the two (Eph 2:15).

It stands to reason that unity should be a hallmark characteristic of the Christian church.

On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, the very first act of the Spirit was to bring everyone together by supernaturally allowing them to speak and understand one another, though their languages were different. One of the last commandments that Christ gave his disciples before his crucifixion was, Love one another” (Jn 13:34). In Ephesians 6, Paul refers to the gospel of Jesus Christ as the gospel of peace (Eph 6:15).

In the book of Revelation, John gives us a glimpse into heaven. As everyone is standing around the throne, they are singing praises to the Lamb, saying:

You were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10).

If our hope is eternal life, then maybe we should consider with whom we’ll spend that life. Occasionally, I’ll hear a person say that he trusts in Christ for salvation but wants nothing to do with the church. I believe in Jesus, but I don’t like organized religion. He’ll be severely disappointed when he arrives in heaven to find that he’ll spend eternity with the very people he avoided while on the earth.