ONE, ONE, ONE, ONE, ONE, ONE, ONE (get the point?) – Friday, 29th week in ordinary time – Ephesians 4:1-6
A single word, “therefore” (4:1) becomes the hinge of the book of Ephesians. “Therefore” indicated that so far there was a cause and hence there should be an effect. The cause was seen in chapter 1-3, the effect is seen in chapters 4-6. Chapters 4-6 are primarily a series of ethical admonitions. It differs from the first half of the book in style and content.
The cause so far has been the graciousness of God who by his love adopted the Gentiles to be co heirs in his inheritance. Now there is a shared identity between Jews and Gentiles with Christ as the binding force. So far, the Gentiles had lived a hopeless and an ungodly existence. Now, they have been immersed in the grace of God through the mystery of Christs’ death and resurrection. Now the Gentiles are members of new household.
God has brought together two disparate groups under one plan of salvation. While both Jews and Gentiles once lived according to the flesh (2:3), Jews were nevertheless “near” to God, while Gentiles were “far off” (2:17). Through Christ, both groups are now joined together and draw nearer to God. Since this is the case, the word “therefore” indicates the effect that is expected of Jews and Gentiles; to live their calling, to be what God wanted them to be, united and one.
It is Christ who has called us. This is unmerited divine election. If that be so, if we truly understand how much God has done for us, our natural response would be a life of service and obedience. This would be an expression of our gratitude. Paul earnestly pleads with the Ephesians to live this life ‘worthy of their calling” We don’t walk worthy so that God will love us, but because He does love us. Our walk must be motivated out of gratitude, not out of a desire to earn merit.
Paul places the calling clearly before the Ephesians. He tells them that the hallmark of the Church and of all creation is unity. This unity must be maintained, it involves making “an effort” so that the bond of peace may be achieved. All of this may fit neatly in a sentence but the achievement of this unity comes with dedicated hard work.
Peace and unity are by its very nature fragile because the human elements that hold it are fragile and flawed. Hence Paul gives them the tools by which this unity and peace are to be maintained. We must endeavour to keep this unity, we do not create it. God never commands us to create unity among believers. He has created it by His Spirit; our duty is to recognise it and keep it.
Paul gives them the character of a worthy walk; and that is love. This love is expressed in lowliness, meekness, patience and forbearing. Every relationship requires bearing and enduring, it requires exercising patience and restraint. This is true of all walks of life; of marriages, in the church, in our friendships and at work.
Seven times in verse 4 and 5, Paul uses the word one; one body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all The sevenfold use of the word “one” forms the centre of a poetic statement of the church’s unity.
If you were reading these verses aloud, where would you place the emphasis? Would it be one BODY, one SPIRIT, one LORD, one FAITH, one BAPTISM, one GOD? That may be the way many may think it ought to be. After all the word one seems to support these giant words filled with meaning. But these verses follow a different approach: ONE body, ONE spirit, ONE lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE God—because the emphasis is not the diversity of gifts but the fact that all believers share them.