8 lessons about the Unity of the Spirit from Ephesians 4:1-16:

1. Unity is a Christian priority. It is an essential expression of our call to Christ (v. 1). Christ himself prioritized our oneness in his prayers (Jn 17:11). Unity is not optional for followers of Christ.
2. Unity is a human impossibility. It is "of the Spirit" (v. 3)—supernaturally produced and given by the Holy Spirit. As such it is not based on natural affinity—common interests, culture, politics, personality. The church is an assembly of recovering "natural enemies" (Carson).
3. Unity is a mark of maturity. As the body is built up in unity of faith, the church becomes "mature" (v. 13), "no longer children" (v. 14). A splintered and divided church is an immature church. It is also a vulnerable church, subject to false teaching and deception (v. 14).
4. Unity is grounded in Christian identity. We *are* one, bound by a common story, common public baptismal identity, and common adoptive family. We have one faith, one hope, one baptism, one father, one body (vv. 4-6).
4a. Unity is grounded, specifically, in Trinitarian identity.
The God to whom we are united, and into whose image we are being conformed, is triune—“one Spirit … one Lord … one Father” (vv. 4-6). Unity is a communal project of becoming more like the God who is three and one.
5. Unity is not the enemy of diversity. Paul adds that grace is given to "each one of us" by the victorious Christ who shares his gifts with his people (vv. 7-11). Oneness is not sameness. Unity is a call to embrace, rather than erase, difference within the community.
6. Unity must be built diligently. It's hard. Hence the language of "building" (vv. 12, 16). We must "make every effort" to preserve unity (v. 3). It should not be presumed. If our unity is to be "thick," it must be forged over time with deliberate, painstaking effort.
7. Unity is everyone's responsibility. It is the job of "the saints" (v. 12), "the whole body" with "each part" making the body grow (v. 16). It is enacted in everyday life and ordinary interactions. It is not the job of unity specialists or the egregiously divisive alone.
8. Unity is forged by truth-telling in love and humility. In this passage, we are given one main tool, one practice: "speaking the truth in love" (v. 15). Speaking truth refers to God's word/gospel; also to speaking forthrightly, truth in opposition to falsehood (v. 25).
8a. And speaking "in love"? The apostle illustrates its meaning in v. 2: "with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another." Speaking truth so as to build up, not tear down.
8b. Note: There are times when a stern word is needed; see Jesus' (and the apostles') ministry. But public rebuke is not an *everyday ministry* in the church; neither is the turning over of tables. And even then, it must be done in love, i.e., for the listener's ultimate good.
8c. Unity is forged not by denying our differences or by avoiding disputes, but by engaging them—*speaking* about them. Naming sin. Naming wounds. Naming grace.
A1. In these days of disdain and division, we must move toward each other. Unity is not achieved through silence, conflict-avoidance, or passivity—a surface peace that only allows sin, wounds, and injustice to fester undetected.
A2. Neither is unity achieved through wrath, coercion, and aggression. Remember, violence—whether physical or verbal—is a form of passive disengagement, a refusal to do the hard, active work of communicating amidst conflict.
A3. We must talk more, not less, about the things that threaten to divide. Speak the truth in love, and do not destroy that for which Christ died—our unity.

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More from @dukekwondc

26 Jan
1/ I agree with @SeanMLucas (albeit as a not-historian) that this is among the most important contributions of @kkdumez's book. ImageImage
2/ One of evangelicalism's most "significant cultural blind-spots" is found in its refusal to see itself as a culture, its stubborn insistence that it just *is* its theological commitments, unmediated and distinct from any institutional, cultural, or political embodiments.
3/ This self-understanding continually allows (and historically has allowed) evangelicals to distance themselves from the social malignancies of the movement. Those are always aberrations—"not us." Alas, there is no "us" except that which identifies with a disembodied confession.
Read 5 tweets
26 Nov 20
Gratitude isn’t easy. If it were, God wouldn’t need to command it, and we wouldn’t need the Holy Spirit to do it. “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess 5:18) 1/x
But gratitude is especially scarce in trying circumstances. The evidence pushes us in the opposite direction—toward grumbling, toward cynicism, toward despair. Giving thanks in a pandemic is hard. 2/x
Still, God invites us to practice thanksgiving for our own good. Gratitude is good for our hearts. (Our bodies, too.) It’s an invitation to remember the promises of God, to see our circumstances with new eyes, see evidence of a different kind—evidence of God’s love for you. 3/x
Read 6 tweets
18 Nov 20
1/ Some interesting data on race/religion from the 2020 IASC Survey of American Political Culture (iasculture.org/research/publi…) —
2/ “Our founding fathers were part of a racist/sexist culture that gave important roles to White men while harming minorities/women.”


90% African Americans
59% White Non-Evangelicals
23% White Evangelicals
3/ "How serious of a threat do you think [Racism—unequal treatment of Whites and Blacks] poses to America and America’s future?"


85% African Americans
68% White Non-Evangelicals
36% White Evangelicals
Read 6 tweets
18 Sep 20
1. One poisonous byproduct of the rising outcry against Critical Race Theory/Marxism is the false, malicious, public labeling of individuals and institutions as heterodox enemies of the church. Another word for this is Slander. It is a grave sin, and it must cease.
2. Slander is a violation of the 8th commandment (the theft of one's good name, "a much dearer possession" [Aquinas] than even physical property) and the 9th commandment (bearing false witness against neighbor).
3. According to our Christian forebears, when guilty of slander, we must not only publicly confess our sin. We must also make amends for these public thefts of reputation. Alas, restitution is required for the sin of slander.
Read 8 tweets
15 Jul 20
1. In the pursuit of public justice, one challenge we typically face is an imbalance of gifts/personalities that shape the public conversation and the crucial work of transformation.
2. We are rarely short on “prophets”—those who speak truth, name the problem, call for repentance and righteousness. They serve a crucial role, but by themselves they cannot effect change. Prophets are, of course, best rewarded in our present moment.
3. But we also need “priests”—those who bring people together, build bridges with the masonry of mercy and kingdom empathy, assure others of the possibility of new beginnings. Without these there can be no healing. They promote the inner work needed for lasting transformation.
Read 5 tweets
22 Oct 19
1. Galatians 3:23–4:7 as an instance of gender-inclusive translation unwittingly neutering the radically gender-inclusive nature of the gospel:
2. Four times Paul refers to those belonging to Christ by faith as "son/s" (υἱός); in three of those instances (we'll get to the fourth), the NIV, for example, translates the word "child/ren" (3:26; 4:7).
3. Is Paul "predictably" succumbing to the patriarchal worldview and linguistic patterns of his day? Doesn't appear so, considering the close proximity of "you are all sons" (3:26) to his boldly egalitarian statement, "there is no male and female" (3:28).
Read 10 tweets

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