Introduction: Key Repetitions Indicating the Focus of This Passage
·Unity…bound together…one…one…one…one…one…one…one …all…all…all… all…all… oneness/unity…all…whole
·Be humble, gentle, patient…tolerant…mature
·Show your love… speaking the truth in love…building the body up through love.
Different dimensions of unity
From the local to the universal church
A. Each local body of believers
B. Methodist fellowship: "connectional ties bind us together in faith and service in our global witness” Book of Discipline ¶102
--“Our worldwide connectio1nal relationship is one of the ways we carry out our missional calling beyond national and regional boundaries.” ¶125
--“In covenant with God and with each other: We affirm our unity in Christ and take faithful steps to live more fully into what it means to be a worldwide church in mission for the transformation of the world…creating a new sense of community and joyously living out our worldwide connection…” ¶125
C. Ecumenical: “United Methodists respond to the theological, biblical, and practical mandates for Christian unity by firmly committing ourselves to the cause of Christian unity at local, national, and world levels…[leading] to sharing in Holy Communion with all of God’s people.” ¶105
Unity of Time—Present & Eternal
A. Communion “With your people on earth and all the company of heaven, we praise your name and join their unending hymn “Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.”
B. “With other Christians we recognize that the reign of God is both a present and future reality. Wherever persons are being made new creatures in Christ, wherever the insights and resources of the gospel are brought to bear on the life of the world, God’s reign is already effective in its healing and renewing power. We also look to the end time in which God’s work will be fulfilled… This expectations saves us from resignation and motivates our continuing witness and service.” ¶102
C. Our liturgy reflections the union of history, the present, and the future
Our liturgy contains practices of God-seekers that are thousands of years old: reading scriptures; singing psalms, hymns and choruses; saying the Lord’s Prayer; reciting the Apostles’ Creed—“I believe in the holy catholic church...” ("catholic"--from the Greek kata- "concerning" -holos "whole; all" --> "concerning the entire body of Christ, throughout and beyond space and time"); and taking communion.
1. Unity in love…
UNITY IN LOVE IS DYNAMIC, NOT STATIC. our passage from Ephesians says that we are to "measure up to the standard God set … prepare all God's people for the work of Christian service, in order to build up the body of Christ… become mature people, reaching to the very height of Christ's full stature… grow up in every way… When each separate part works as it should, the whole body grows and builds itself up through love."
UNITY IN LOVE IS INCLUSIVE, NOT EXCLUSIVE, not “Us against Them” but “Us for them”—“all people.
--Christian unity, of which we are reminded when joining to worship with members of other denominations
--Human unity: seeing the positives we have in common with the non-Christians (prevenient grace) and building relationships based on the positives.
UNITY IN LOVE ENCOURAGES SELF-CRITICISM AND CREATIVITY RATHER THAN GROUP-THINK. “Groupthink occurs when … Individual members of [a] group are strongly discouraged from any disagreement and set aside their own thoughts and feelings to unquestioningly follow the word of the leader and other group members. …group members refrain from expressing doubts, judgments or disagreement with the consensus and ignore any ethical or moral consequences of any group decision that furthers their cause.” Psychology Today
--“[The UMC affirms] our unity in Jesus Christ while acknowledging differences in applying our faith in different cultural contexts” (BD, p. 104)
--“Every generation must appropriate creatively the wisdom of the past and seek God in their midst in order to think afresh about God, revelation, sin, redemption, worship, the church, freedom, justice, moral responsibility, and other…concerns… to understand and receive the gospel promises in our troubled and uncertain times. (BD, ¶105)
d. UNITY IN LOVE ENCOURAGES “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) rather than avoiding problems: mutual respect and accountability—along with risk-taking, creativity, independent thinking—are necessary for healthy growth.
Unity in the local church: Our local church should be a shining example of growing in unity through the love of Christ and the love of each other