Back on Friday we saw that an important part of Paul’s specially tailored gospel message for Ephesus was that the cross has made the kingdom of God open to all people, Jews and Gentiles. There is one new humanity irrespective of ethnicity.
Today, as Paul turns from the theological to the practical, from the God-part of the book to the Humanity-part, Paul reminds the Ephesians (and us) that God hasn’t just placed a bundle of blessings on their lap, they have a job in the new creation: make that new ethnicity-less humanity a reality in their everyday life as a church (4:1, 12, 22-24). Paul brings this point home with the many “one another” phrases in this chapter (and also the very popular “one” passage in 4:4-6):
Bear with one another in love. (4:2a)
Be humble, meek, and patient in every way with one another. (4:2b)
. . . with your lives bound together in peace. (4:3b)
. . . held together by every joint which supports it [the church body] (4:16a)
We are members of one another. (4:25)
Be kind to one another. (4:32a)
Cherish tender feelings for each other. (4:32b)
Forgive one another (4:32c)
At the same time, we are not all the same. Not only have we come from different backgrounds, God has equipped us with different gifts, abilities, and personalities (4:7, 11). Yet, that diversity is unified by a common purpose:
The purpose of this [diverse gifting] is that we should all reach unity in our belief and loyalty, and in knowing God’s son. Then we shall reach the stature of the mature Man measured by the standards of the king’s fullness. (4:13)
The “new humanity” we are called to become is best seen in the life and person of Jesus the King. He died for us. He saved us. He is working inside of us and through us, all with the goal of becoming like him, not the world from which we have come (4:22-24). That’s something that can create unity.