The Unity of the Body of Christ
There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:4-6
There is an episode in the long-running television show M*A*S*H where the character Hawkeye suffers a concussion and is tended to by a Korean family. The dialogue is Hawkeye babbling to the family, who doesn’t understand a word that he says, while he tries to keep himself awake. During the course of his stream of (barely) consciousness, Hawkeye extols the benefits of the human hand and the ways in which the hand is used from making a fist to holding a glass or even juggling. The unity of the body is constantly on display in what a body is able to do, but seldom recognized until some condition disrupts that unity.
When St. Paul describes the Church as the body of Christ in Ephesians 4, he highlights the purpose and function of such unity. Thomas Winger writes, “In Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12…it is diversity that concerns Paul in those passages. In Ephesians the analogy is in service of a somewhat different task. Nowhere is diversity of roles mentioned. On the contrary, it is the oneness of the body, its organic unity that is stressed (Eph 4:4).” (Ephesians, p. 270).
Our prayer is that congregations would demonstrate that God-given unity in Christ by functioning as one. United as one does not mean that there are no differences of opinion, but rather the Church rejoices in the unity that God gives in and through Christ. This unity is given at the font and rail, in Absolution and in His Word that is proclaimed, prayed, and sung. This unity is not found in agreement in the color of the carpet or the main dish at the church picnic, but rather in the gifts that we receive as humble beggars. None of us deserve anything from God, but He gives His gifts to us out of His rich grace and mercy. By the Spirit’s work, we are able to look beyond personal preferences and opinions and be the Body of Christ, united as one, the individual parts working properly to serve the whole rather than the parts. May God break down our individual wills and conform them to His good and gracious will so that we might function as one in demonstration of the unity that He has given.
Prayer – O God, Your infinite love restores to the right way those who err, seeks the scattered and preserves those whom You have gathered. Of Your tender mercy pour out on Your faithful people the grace of unity that, all schisms being ended, Your flock may be gathered to the true Shepherd of Your Church and may serve You in all faithfulness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Fraternally in Christ,
President Lee Hagan