“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”–Ephesians 4:1-3
Getting along with other Christians is one of our foremost responsibilities and challenges. At the moment of conversion, we are born into a new spiritual family. We become God’s children, and all those who belong to Him are also related to us. We soon realize what the Bible means when it refers to us as strangers and pilgrims. We have less in common with this world and with those who are a part of this world’s system. At the same time, we have much more in common with our new family. God is our Father; Jesus is our Savior; the Bible is our guide; Heaven is our home; holiness is our objective; evangelism is our purpose; love is our motivation; and integrity is our passion.
This commonness is even more pronounced in our relationship to the members of our church body. We are bound together by the strong cords of charity and purpose. We are united in our care for one another and in our goal of impacting our communities with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet, the painful reality is that believers can have a very difficult time getting along with each other, forgiving each other, and remaining loyal to each other. It takes effort to keep our churches unified, as God wants them to be.
The Scripture charges us with the words, “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” To endeavor means we have to work at it; it takes labor and effort. Maintaining the right spirit towards one another does not happen automatically. Our flesh can find reasons to hold grudges or harbor ill feelings. The devil is actively working to divide and isolate the sheep from the flock and their shepherd.
As challenging as unity may seem, we know it is possible because it is God’s will for us. We must remain humble, treating others with “lowliness and meekness.” Pride drives wedges between the best of friends. We are to have “longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.” Because of our love, we are able to bear with and be patient with each other. By God’s grace, and with the right attitude, we can experience the kind of unity He desires.–Thomas Smith