“As a prisoner for the Lord, then I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 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. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” Eph. 4:1-6
Every Thursday morning pastors and Christian leaders gather to pray for our beloved city of Patterson, and we begin each meeting by reading this Scripture from Ephesians. For me, it is a weekly reminder of the priority and urgency of our unity. In order to experience true unity we must do our part, and God does His.
Unity is not a peripheral subject for us as believers. It is our lifestyle. The God who gave us new life is the God who has entrusted us with the ministry of reconciliation in a world fractured by selfishness and dissension.
Look around your world, what do you see? Division in the workplace. Gossip and distrust in your company. Tensions at home. Children and youth disrespecting their parents. Parents frustrated with their kids. Strife in the marriage. Ethnic and economic injustices. What do you see in our nation? Vicious partisan politics keeping us stuck in government gridlock.
In a broken world, we desperately need a unified church. It all starts with those of us who claim the name of Jesus Christ. We must be humble and gentle, considering others above ourselves. We must learn to endure one another with patience. Paul commands us to make every effort to keep our spiritual unity in the bond of peace. This is hard work, but it is all worth it.
We cannot be a reconciling force in our world if we divide ourselves among denominational lines. Christians of old said it right: “In the essentials, unity. In the non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity (love).”
Let us remember that our unity is not the result of anything we have done. We are brothers and sisters because we have one Father, one Lord, Jesus Christ, and one Holy Spirit. We are one body because of one baptism; we have one faith and one hope. These are the essentials of our faith. In all other things, we should respect our differences, and above all, we should love one another as Christ loved us. We cannot love one another, if we do not know each other and pray for one another regularly.
If you are a Christian leader or pastor, we invite you to join us weekly for coffee and prayer. For more information, please call Pastor Cesar @ 209-892-7911.
The Rev. Cesar Buitrago is pastor of Patterson Christian Fellowship. Sermon Notes is a column by local religious leaders.