Sunday, December 9, 2012

On 12-16-12, Ephesians 4:1-16 will be our Adult Sunday School/Uniform Series/International Sunday School Lesson, herein is my commentary. This lesson is known by some as Part of One Body in Christ aka Unity in the Body of Christ

Part of One Body in Christ
 Unity in the Body of Christ
 Ephesians 4:1-16
International Sunday School Lesson
December 16, 2012

Jed Greenough

I am thankful that I worship in a place that all who walk through the doors of our building are, technically speaking, welcome to commune.  But I must also admit that given enough time within those confines it is entirely possible that differences could soon bring their worship to a halt.
It might be that the person has a problem with the frequency of our communion, our method of baptism or how vocal or quiet we are during our service.  It might be that there are secular views that are so front and forward for either party that these views will get in the way.  It could even be something more important such as the Holy Spirit’s place in their worship.
This pains me more than I will get in to, to know that coincidentally that as I am days away from a journey, that as I travel, I cannot walk through the doors of any church and take communion with them according to their bylaws.
We have forgotten many of the reasons for our own divisions.  For many they have been a part of where they worship for so long that they are taken care of so they don’t give it much thought.  But they should.
Recently, in reading about a trial of some Amish men for cutting others facial hair over some difference I found out how radical this outward expression was for the Amish as a general rule.  Like everyone else though when they have a falling out over differences they split up and worship separately.  But in God’s sight the division is still unpleasing whether it is vocal or aggressive or passive.
What Paul was conveying to us in this week’s scripture is that these are the key points to concentrate on:
There is one body.
There is one Spirit.
One Lord.
One faith.
One baptism.
One God.
Today few can agree on any of these anymore and when Paul wrote today’s scripture, these things at least were to be a given.  It was the rest that needed to be worked on.  And that is that since these are clear then we are to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”
How?  First clearly in order to have unity and the way to do that is by being “completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” and “through the bond of peace.”  In Romans 12 Paul tells us to “not think of yourself more highly than you ought”.  And goes on to talk as you know similarly as here in Ephesus of our being a body part, if you will, of an entire body.
Why is this so difficult for us?  Quite frankly loving one another seems to be the hardest part of the sanctification process but the one we seem to spend the least amount of effort on.  We work willingly with the Holy Spirit in this process of sanctification growing week by week on those things we know we should but love for neighbor comes the slowest.
This is the reason that Jesus when asked what the greatest commandment was replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
This week I don’t think I can say more on this subject then to offer that you must acknowledge your problem with loving your neighbor just as you do any other problem that must be dealt with.  Than go to God in prayer, constantly consciously be aware of the issue so that it is in the forefront of your mind as you deal with people who differ with you, who irritate you while driving, who sing too loud or off key.  Emulate those who have demonstrated this type of love.  Even go to them and ask for their advice.
Just as we have cast off the other things with the help of the Holy Spirit so can this failing to love as we should be put off.  It seems amazing to say it, but love really does take work but as in all things it is worth the effort.  Don’t miss this final point: if only half of us did it, unity would never be an issue.

For Discussion:

1.      We have Worship Committees, Grounds and Missions Committees; make it a project for your Sunday School class to create a Unity Committee where you worship.
2.      Discuss success in creating unity in the past.
3.      Discuss in general terms failures to maintain unity in the past.
4.      Again in general terms examine where your place of worship might have problems with unity in the future.  Do not let an appearance of success or growth cloud your vision!
5.      Discuss how important it is to put aside our own feelings for the benefit of others and therefore maintain unity.
6.      Where mixed groups worship in the same building but at different times (such as traditional versus contemporary) discuss how unity can and must be created.
7.      Discuss where there is a lack of peace whether your church should have a means to address the situation more aggressively.
8.      Though not discussed in my commentary today the role of those who lead (see vs. 11) is critical for the maturing growth within the church so that those they teach/influence do not act as infants.  Meaning that the more mature the congregation in their faith due to wise teachers will help eliminate disunity.  Not everyone is called or given by the Holy Spirit to be in those roles in which they have been placed within the church which causes much of the problem.

Upcoming Adult Sunday School Class Commentaries

12-23-12: Alive in the Light of Christ aka Live in the Light John 1:1-5, 14; Ephesians 5:1, 2, 6-14
12-30-12: Christ’s Love for the Church Ephesians 5:18-6:4 or Ephesians 5:21-6:4
1-6-13:     Proclaiming Christ Philippians 1:12-26 or 1:15-26
1-13-13:   Imitating Christ aka Jesus’ Humility and Exaltation Philippians 2:1-13 or 2:5-11

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved

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