Following his instruction to believers to live their lives in a manner worthy of our calling, the Apostle Paul then expounded on how this calling can be practically viewed as we interact with one another.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph 4:4-6 NASB)
In this single sentence Paul used the word “one” seven times. It seems he really wanted to make a point: there is only one faith in Christ. This is not the first time he discussed the unity we have both with each other and with the Lord in our common faith.
In Ephesians 2:11-22 Paul illuminated the unity of believers in Christ, and that through Christ’s work on the cross He made peace for us, brought us near, tore down the wall of hostility our sin had created, adopted us into the eternal Abrahamic promise, and gave us access to the Father through the One Spirit of the Godhead. As we’ll see in the coming weeks, Paul further emphasizes the importance of unity in the body of Christ throughout chapter 4.
As we examine the first six verses of this chapter, one thing really stands out: there is no place for pride, boasting, or haughtiness in the Christian’s life. We are all of one body, united in one Savior, under one Father. We all stand before the Lord with the same credentials – sinners saved by grace and Christ’s finished work on the cross.
Paul described this when he wrote to the church in Corinth. The majority of 1 Corinthians 12 (well, and most of that epistle) revolves around that church’s disfunction and misunderstanding of the true gospel and how believers are to live it out. In verses 12-14 he wrote, “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot says, “Because I am not a hand, I am not a part of the body,” it is not for this reason any the less a part of the body.” He continued with further everyday examples as he rebuked the church for being prideful in their spiritual gifts and in effect using them against each one another.
Christ also discussed this with His disciples at multiple times, including when James and John asked Jesus for a special seat in His future Kingdom. He told them they did not understand what they were asking and that, “whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:43-45.
Believers are called to be united in the faith and not pining for position, authority, or rule over one another. We are to serve one another in humility and impartiality. This stands in stark and blinding contrast to how the world works. Everyone wants to be in front, be seen, be important, and rule over others. And as we constantly see in Scripture, a Christian is called to be different. Here, behaving the opposite of how the world behaves is where we reflect Christ more brightly and clearly.
We each have a unique and special talent from God to enable the work He has called us to do. This gift should always be used for His glory, never for our own, and Paul’s reminder to the Ephesians is just as valid as it was 1950 years ago: the disciple of Christ must be different from the world, and through that difference people are blessed and see the gospel being lived out!