Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Friday, 28 September 2012

How all Christians contribute to unity (Eph. 4:1-3)

Paul mentions three attitudes and one action that are essential for maintaining unity in a church. The attitudes are gentleness, humility and patience, and the action is bearing with one another in love. 

The word ‘all’ describes both the humility and the gentleness, and having these fruits we will then become patient or longsuffering, which in turn enables us to bear with one another. The outcome of this is practical Christian love. Paul here is giving a definition of Christian love: it involves personal attitudes (my disposition), response to circumstances (my acquiescence), and tolerance of others (my acceptance of them).

It is not difficult to see that Paul is telling his readers to imitate the example of Jesus. A very simple rule for most situations is to ask ourselves what Jesus would do if he were here. His humility was seen in his willingness to serve, shown so clearly by his actions in the Upper Room when he washed his disciples’ feet. His gentleness was seen in the way he interacted with the needy and the despised. He was never cruel, either in his words or actions. His patience was displayed in his acceptance of his disciples’ ignorance and refusal to take his words seriously. The clearest place to see his humility, his gentleness, and his patience is when he was on the cross.

What are the opposites of these graces? Pride in our own selves, harshness in our speech and actions, and intolerance of the weakness of others. Sadly they are sometimes seen in the church, and when they occur unity has disappeared.

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