By Stan Brown
Ephesians 4:3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
The unity of the body of Christ is certainly prominent in this passage. It is based on the theology of chapters one through three where Paul speaks of the mystery that has united Jews and Gentiles into one body. Unity is an essential element in the body of Christ. After all we are one body. Jesus said in His prayer to the Father in John 17, “I am no longer in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. … “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me (John 17:11,20-21). Paul writes that we must make a strong concerted effort (being diligent) to preserve what God has already provided through the power of His Holy Spirit. That is the uniting together in Christ all those who have been saved by grace through faith. This requires walking worthy of our calling with an attitude of humility, gentleness and patience. The bond of peace has already been accomplished in Christ as he has united all believers into one body. This unity has been provided through the concerted effort of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit working together as One.
This is not a namby-pamby unity that throws aside the foundations of what we believe but rather a unity that is based on who God is and what He has accomplished in our lives. We believe that He is the Triune God who is all powerful and beyond time and space. He has revealed Himself to us in His creation and in His written word and in the revelation of the incarnate Son of God who came to die for us. He rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. We receive eternal life as we believe in Him. We are united through faith in the grace through faith salvation that He has provided as a gift. We are united in the theology that Paul has espoused in the first three chapters of this epistle. We are united in the body of Christ. We are united in His truth. In the next few verses, Paul will go on to describe how God has intentionally brought together a diverse group into one body through the working of the Holy Spirit, the Son and the Father (they are mentioned in that order in the next three verses).
The practical problem is that believers divide from one another because we fail to walk worthy of our calling with an attitude of humility, gentleness and patience. We elevate ourselves over one another and perhaps God as well rather than elevating God to His proper place in our lives. We ignore the admonition of gentleness and patience as our own preferences take the place of God’s truth. It is likely that we will disagree with one another on a variety of issues (maybe even politics). Someone has once said that if we agreed on everything there would be no need for one of us. In the next three verses Paul will elucidate seven elements that demonstrate our unity in Christ. We are called to walk in unity.