What is Needed for Unity to Flourish?

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 bonds of peace.

Ephesians 4:2-3

What, precisely, is meant by 'every effort?'

What hasn't been tried yet?

Remembering that Scripture commands 'every effort'
in the preservation of unity,
reflect on the places where disunity is present in your life.


Humility is required.  Humility is the recognition of one's proper place in the order of things.  Knowing where you belong, and whom you belong to.  Understanding what authority you have, and who's authority you are under.  Knowing what wisdom you possess, and knowing what wisdom you lack.  Recognizing that you cannot stand alone, and have been joined (by God!) to those who challenge the bonds peace. Humility is required for unity to flourish.

Gentleness is required.  Harsh words and hard responses invite people to see us as their opponents.  Condescending tones provoke inferiority and/or indignation.  Strong actions, when taken without mutually agreed upon wisdom, lead to wounds; wounds lead to pain, mistrust, anger, and fear.  Gentleness sets aside all of this, and invites trust.  A gentle man can be trusted not to wound; even when he misunderstands, he does not misstep, because his steps are slow and deliberate.  Gentleness is required for unity to flourish.

Patience is required.  Perhaps the older word is better; long-suffering is required.  It has been said, about the work of reconciliation, "if you are bleeding, you are doing it right."  It has also been said, about the fellowship of Christians across cultural lines, "expect to offend, and to be offended."  Patience is the willingness to tolerate discomfort, disagreement, confusion, pain, deprivation, misunderstanding, even egregious offense, with the expectation that the future will be better than the present.  Without patience there can be no maturity, and maturity is a pre-requisite for unity.  A mature believe understands that all holiness, all glory, all wisdom, and all godly power, comes into the community of humans through a process that takes time, energy, and obedience.  Unity will not be sustained without the 'long obedience in the same direction.'  Patience is required for unity to flourish.

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