EPHESIANS 4:3 Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
The call to unity in any field of endeavour is certainly a call in the right direction. In the corporate world, in institutions, in politics or nation building, in the home and family unit, or wherever humans find themselves, unity is a virtue that cannot be overemphasized. In the church, and more specifically, Assemblies of God, Ghana, this call could not have come at a better time.
This is not to say that there is fragmentation in the organization, but rather to emphasize an ingredient needed for the forward move, especially as we embark on novelty projects. It is important to remember that God responds to unity whether it is towards a good cause or an evil one. Unity is always significant.
In the passage, Unity goes beyond a form of friendship or camaraderie, as may be the case in a supporters’ club. Supporters of a team, a club, a political party, or any cause will of necessity have to unite their efforts in a bid to achieve their objective. Unity in the Spirit goes beyond this. Apostle Paul alludes to the fact that Unity is both an Attitude in line with our Walk, and an Activity in line with our Ways.
In explaining Unity, he first of all gives us the basis of his admonishing. I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, verse 1. Our Unity must be based on the fact that we have been called by the Lord. The Christian life is a Calling – a heavenly calling, a holy calling, and a high calling. We are called into a special relationship with the Lord which requires an attitude of unity. Unity ought to be the product of our common response to the call of God.
Paul was very much aware of the diverse backgrounds, different tribes and cultures, multiple ideological persuasions, and pluralistic tendencies in his readers. However, they still have something in common that should be the propelling force in getting united – the calling with which you were called. If we accept that we have all responded to the same calling from one Lord and Saviour, then we should put aside every other interest or personal persuasion and relate in unity. We should also be conscious of other people’s diverse opinions, but still seek unity.
Unity may not come naturally. Staying united demands a certain effort. It requires the nurturing of a certain attitude that looks beyond ourselves. This is so because people’s approaches, adaptations, achievements, aspirations, and anticipations are never the same, and can never be the same. It is no secret that some people are just not easy to live with or work with. Unity is not a matter of putting our differences in one melting pot in order to come out with one identifiable goal for us all. Unity is accepting and accommodating our differences, based on the fact that we have something in common that is more compelling. That is why Paul mentions that we should seek unity “with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.” Unity requires an attitude of humility, tolerance, and love.
Paul also describes Unity as an Activity that should reflect our ways as Christians. Christian Unity is a product of the Holy Spirit, yet Paul encourages believers to endeavour to keep it. This requires a conscious and active effort. Since God created us with the freedom of choice, He cannot force unity on us. Unity then is not a mechanical situation, but a vital, living, and active result of our activity.
Our active effort at staying in unity is once again boosted by the fact that there are many and more crucial things that should unite us than the things that should make us go our separate directions. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Our salvation is characterized by one Derivation, one Duration, and one Destination. That should settle it.
As a vital and vibrant church organization, we are undoubtedly doing very well in our various parishes and communities. We may have individual hopes and aspirations for our congregations, which define and determine our activities. We possess varied abilities, gifts, and anointing. We have acquired diverse degrees in different fields of endeavour. Everything we can think of favours our personalized approach to ministry, even the organizational structure itself.
Our autonomy should not be the basis for disunity and division. We cannot achieve growth, maturity, and national relevance if we follow our individual routes. Belonging to one organization, having responded to one calling, serving one Master, sustained by one Spirit, aiming at one hope, and expecting one eternal habitation, the need for unity cannot be overemphasized. In unity lie our Strength, our Sustenance, and our Success.
Our unity must not mean the merging of our visions but the acceptance of one overriding, organizational, and controlling vision. It should mean setting aside our individual interests, and rallying behind the driving machinery, which in this case is the Executive Presbytery, when the need arises. Our identity as an organization should be more important to all of us.
The year 2014 holds a lot of monumental developments for our organization. The University takes off, the Pension Scheme gains root, the Headquarters building and several new projects receive attention. A united organization, rallying behind the Leadership, is what will bring the results.
In our local churches, the same call to Unity should persist. A united membership is strategic for the spiritual, numerical, and financial growth. The same principle of rallying behind one supreme vision applies to every local church. As Spirit-filled members and ministers, let us allow the unifying elements of our faith and hope to carry us to our deserved destination.