Can Americans Ever Learn to Live in Unity?
Discussion Guide for Ephesians 4:1-16
One of the constants that we have seen in recent years in the United States is the way that lack of unity and love in our country have made us collectively weaker. No one has (or likely will) be able to come up with a political solution, even though leaders in almost every sector of society claim to be working on one.
We will not be able to have success where greater minds have failed in bringing unity to the country, but the New Testament gives us a very strong theological basis for the unity and love amongst all of us who belong to the family of Jesus Christ. BECAUSE the basis of our unity is Jesus Christ, unity is not only helpful, but it is essential. Unity is our destiny. Unity is who we are because we are ONE FAMILY. Listen to how Paul describes this for the church in Ephesus.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says,
“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
and he gave gifts to men.”
9 (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? 10 He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Only mature people are capable living in unity with those with whom they are not identical. Spiritual maturity is a vital quality that the people of God should all strive toward.
Our focus this week is on each and every Christian’s responsibility to help the body of Christ (the church) to grow up into spiritual maturity. Our attitudes and actions have a direct impact on how the church lives into its calling as ONE FAMILY.
- How does a person demonstrate an eagerness to maintain unity? (v. 3)
- In what ways does baptism give us a visual picture of the unity of the church? (5-6)
- How do your personal spiritual gifts reflect the gift (grace) that he has given to all people? (v. 7-10)
- Give an example of a gift used to build up others as opposed to build up the person who possesses the gift.
- Why is a mature Christian more likely to strive for unity than an immature Christian?
- How has the body (the Church) helped you to grow into spiritual adulthood?
- In what ways can you contribute to the spiritual maturity and health of the church?