We have boasted as a country of our ability to have peaceful transitions of power, but this inauguration year has seemed anything but that! It is true that we do not have armed coups but free elections and usually the acceptance of those election results. This year has been different, and daily we hear of protests and riots. We are all well aware of the deep division in our country, aren't we? And it is wearisome.
We may well feel like Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (1519-1554), whose efforts to unite all Christendom were frustrated by a German monk named Martin Luther and the reformation he ignited. In 1554 he handed the Empire over to his brother, Ferdinand and formally abdicated in the fall of 1555. He was reportedly tired of all the bickering, fighting, wars and bloodshed. So he retreated to his home in Spain. The story is told that one of the projects he resumed was getting all six of the clocks in his palace to chime exactly on the hour together. But no matter how hard he worked at adjusting them, each clock continued to chime at slightly different moments. In his memoirs he wrote, "How is it possible for six different clocks to chime all at the same time. How is it even more possible or impossible for the six nations of the Holy Roman Empire to live in harmony? It can't be done. It's impossible. Not even if they call themselves Christians."
But we do not belong to the world; we belong to Jesus Christ who bought us with His blood. And so we enjoy a peace among ourselves and a unity that the world knows nothing about, but desperately needs. This Sunday we will celebrate communion and one of the significant dimensions of this sacrament is that of community. We partake, the Scriptures say, of one loaf. We are bound together by a common faith in the Lord Jesus and all that He accomplished for us by means of His cross and resurrection. So in preparation for observing the Lords' Supper this Sunday, let's remember our blood bought peace with one another and unity by meditating on Ephesians 4:1-6. Read that text carefully twice and then use the questions below to assist you in meditating on this text.
- What would you say is the overall theme of these 16 verses? In other words, what is Paul's aim in writing these verses?
- Paul opens this section of his letter with an exhortation "to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called." What have we been called to? And why do you think he makes mention of the fact that he is in prison for the Lord? What does that have to do with his exhortation?
- In verses 2 and 3 Paul lists several qualities that are to characterize our walk. What are they and how would you describe them in practical terms?
- In verse 3 Paul says that we are to be "eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." He doesn't say that we are to make unity, but maintain it. What do you think he means by that? What unity do we already have?
- What do verses 4-6 say about our unity?
- Verses 7-12 introduce the subject of diversity into this unity that we have. What do these verses suggest about how we are different? (c.f., Romans 12:3-8; I Cor. 12:4-11)
- In the context of this diversity within unity, what does Paul say should be our one ambition (vv. 12-13)?
- According to verses 14-16 what is our common work and common goal? What is the Lord's will for us?
- How do humility, gentleness, patience and forbearance (v. 2) play into this pursuit of helping one another mature in Christ and grow up in love?
- How do you see yourself pursuing the building up of the Body of Christ? What does the Lord expect of you? What is your role?
- How does this passage inform your understanding of what the Lord is up to at Bear Creek Church? What do you need to do? How can you pray?
God be with you, and hope to see you on Sunday! Come prepared to celebrate the pledge of the bond we have together in Jesus!