We are one

The preaching of St Paul at Ephesus. Eustache Le Sueur [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The preaching of St Paul at Ephesus. Eustache Le Sueur [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Letter to the Church at Ephesus circulated at a time when the world of the day was divided. There were divisions that separated people from people; class from class, nation from nation, ideology from ideology, Gentile from Jew, male from female. What was true of the world was also true of human nature. The Apostle Paul is very much aware of the Jekyll and Hyde personality. In the letter he describes the unity to be found in Christ. The keynote message is the gathering together of all things in Christ. (Ephesians 4: 1–16)

In Chapter 4, we are at the beginning of the second part of Paul’s letter. In the earlier chapters he deals with the great and central truths of the Christian faith and with the role God intends for the church. We are reminded of the diversity of character within the church. We are different because we have been given different gifts. The great truth which Paul underlines and one which we are slow to learn, resides in the possibility that in Christ we may have unity in diversity. Our suspicion of those to whom we attach labels which differ from our own does not survive scrutiny before Christ.

He speaks of the ministry of the whole people of God, something about which we must be convinced and must accept in order that the church may be more effective in its mission. It means that whatever our office in the church, or if we have no particular office, we share one ministry. There are no boss people, only partners.

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An apostle’s prayer

Lord, if the choice was left to us to call people to follow you, we should be so fussy and high-minded we would probably find that the criteria we set excluded ourselves. Unless there is room for all in the kingdom, there is no room for us. Lord, except your love is a many splendoured thing it would not embrace us. We are humbled and thankful. Forgive us if we do not represent you fairly and do people an injustice by our failure to live a life that tells the true story of your love. Amen

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