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December 7 – Inconceivable!

As followers of Christ, we use a lot of words that may not be used correctly. Two words that tend to be misunderstood are “unity” and “peace.” Those are great words to describe how we should live in fellowship with each other, but we attach our own understanding to those words. Rather than focus on unity of the Spirit, we demand unity in action and thought. Cult leaders seek to make sure everyone does things exactly the same. We wear the same clothes, we do the same things. Everything is done in unity, well, unanimity really. And that’s a different word. Another word we seem to misunderstand is “peace.” Neville Chamberlain is pilloried for his comment after a meeting to deal with Nazi aggression that “We have peace in our time.” Even if not another shot had been fired, there would not have been peace, because peace is more than an absence of conflict. Paul notes the importance of those concepts in this short passage: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:2-3 NIV)

As Paul began this section of the letter to the Ephesians, he noted that he was a prisoner for Christ before he began the exhortation. He didn’t call for a revolution to free himself, he reminded these Christians to act in a way that was completely contrary to the current culture: show humility, be gentle, be patient, put up with each other in love. These ideas today are so counter culture that we forget to practice them as Christians. We fight for acceptance and for our rights, forgetting what our main call from God is, which is to make disciples of all men. We’re called to keep the unity of the Spirit. That doesn’t mean uniformity. We’re all different. We approach life differently. We have different denominations because we believe differently. But we can still be united in the Spirit if we deal with our differences in a humble and gentle way. We don’t need to tell the other guy how wrong he is in his beliefs, we need to show love and grace by being humble and gentle. Every person I think is wrong, probably thinks I’m wrong too. We can trust God’s Spirit to lead us no matter what our differences may be. Living in the bonds of peace means that we work together harmoniously, in spite of our differences.


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