The challenge to extend every muscle to have the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace is defined by the Spirit as being based on seven foundation “One’s”. The theme of making peace a priority started with walking in a manner worthy of our calling in Ephesians 4:1-3. Then in verses 4-6 he laid out the seven one’s. “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, one God and Father of all who is above all, through all and in you all.”
Let’s focus on the first of these foundations, the one body. The comparison of the church as the body of Christ is characteristic of Paul’s writings. In Romans 12:1-9 he described the body as one with many members and each member with it’s own function. He noted that there are different gifts that one may have and that whatever our gift may be, we are to use it in God’s service. In I Corinthians 12 in a discussion of spiritual gifts he declared that “In one Spirit we are all baptized into one body and all made to drink of the one Spirit.” He goes ahead to say, “As the body is one and has many members and all the members of the body, being many are one body, so we being many are one body also is Christ.” The only time the Bible describes followers of Christ as “Members” of the church is when the church is described as the one body. Christians aren’t members of the church in the sense of being members of a club or organization but in the sense that our hand is a member of the body. A member of a club can function just fine separated from the club, but a member of a body quickly stops functioning altogether if it is separated from the body.
In describing the work of the body he makes two huge points. He points out that one member can’t say to another that they don’t need them since we all depend on each other. Just as the eye can’t say to the hand that “I don’t need you” so no member is exclusive of all others. The second point is that one member has no reason to feel inferior to another. Different members may not be as obvious or noticeable as others but that doesn’t make them less important or vital to the functioning of the body. Paul draws from these points the conclusion that every member should be honored just as we show honor to the least honorable parts of the body by dressing them. He said that the least honorable parts of the spiritual body, the church are needed and that we should show honor to the one who needs it instead of just to the one who deserves it. He said that if we showed such honor for one another in the body it would lead to everyone rejoicing with the ones who rejoice and weeping with the ones who weep.
If we showed such honor for all and identified with each other it would be much, much easier to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
In Ephesians 1:22-23 Paul that “He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” When we think of the church the body of Christ and Him as the head of the body it not only makes sense that there is one body and only one it demonstrates the importance God places on the church. The verses just before this in Ephesians one are about the amazing power of God demonstrated in Christ by raising him from the dead and seating Him at his right hand in the heavens far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the age to come.” It was out of this that he declared that “He put everything under His feet.” But the height of the whole demonstration of God’s power was that He appointed Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body. Notice that after declaring that “All spiritual blessings are found in Christ” in chapter one, verse 3, he then said that the “Fullness of Christ is in the church.” To think one can have God’s spiritual blessings outside the body of Christ is as foolish as one thinking they can separate the body from the physical head and still function as a body.
In Ephesians 2:13-22 Paul described how the church as Christ body was the place where both Jews and Gentiles were brought together, reconciled both to God and one another in that one body by the cross through which he put to death the enmity that had been there. The church is the place where all people, no matter their race or ethnic group can be brought together as one. To have more than one body is to make the whole point of bringing together people who are very different into one body become completely lost.
Later in Ephesians 4:11-16 Paul pointed out how the oneness of the body is worked out in the practical growth of the body. “Christ ascended on high, led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men. He gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints, for the work of ministry for the building up of the body of Christ. Till we all come to the unity of the faith, to the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, that we might no longer be children tossed about with every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head – Christ. From Him the whole body, fitted and knit together by every supporting ligament, promotes the growth of the body for building up itself in love by the proper working of each individual part.”
The one body is the called out community of Christ that one becomes part of by becoming a disciple of Christ. In Acts 2:36-47 Peter preached the gospel to the crowd in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. When they heard that they were guilty of crucifying the very one who had been made both Lord and Christ and was now seated at God’s right hand, they were cut to the heart and cried out “Men and Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter answered, “Repent and be baptized everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Three thousand of them believed in Jesus and were baptized that day. Those who were saved were added to the number of disciples or the church.
The one church isn’t some denomination or sectarian group but the one body that Jesus adds to when we are saved. Every Christian is a member of the same church, the one Jesus is head over and the one He alone keeps the records for. Whether we are on the roll of some local church has a relationship to being part of the body of Christ, but the two are not equal. One can become a member of a local church by doing what that church requires for membership but people can’t see into one another’s hearts or know the nature of their faith or repentance. Only the Lord can know those things. So only the Lord knows for sure who those people are that are the redeemed.
As we seek for that unity of the Spirit, let’s make certain we build on the solid foundation of God and His word.