Christian faith is more than a simple adherence to a common belief. Rather, it is manifested in the variety of gifts that each Christian brings to the Body of Christ. And we are to use these gifts in service to all others, out of our love for God.
This passage is from the opening verse of chapter 4 of the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians. It is the beginning of a reflection on the the unity and the maturity of the Body of Christ, that is, the Church. This is something for all Christians to reflect on with great seriousness in light of the fact that it is the wisdom and the expressed desire of God. Paul, through the influence of the Holy Spirit, is telling us that the Christian Church is to be “one body and one Spirit, just as [we] were called to one hope when [we] were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (verses 4-6) That is God’s truth. We can not, indeed, we may not, deny this and call ourselves Christians.
Christian faith is more than a simple adherence to a common belief. Rather, it is manifested in the variety of gifts that each Christian brings to the Body of Christ. And we are to use these gifts in service to all others, out of our love for God. This is how we are to give thanks to him for those generous gifts he has given us. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35) Imagine this for a moment: If all of us who call ourselves Christians truly lived by these words, would we not all be be united as one in a mature Body of Christ? We are not there yet, but there is no reason for despair in this, because God is working in and through all things to bring us to that unity and maturity. Our divisions are false and they are simply a product of our present immaturity in the faith. Immaturity need not be anything more than a stage in life, but maturity is a choice. If we develop the habit of willingly bending our own individual wills to the righteous will of God, he will always give the graces that we need to mature in the faith. That maturity in faith will inevitably lead to our unity in the One Body of Christ. Is this not God’s desire for us all?
Have we not been told, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” (James 1:22) Or, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only those who do the will of my Father who is in heaven,” (Matthew 7:21) Or, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on a rock.” (Matthew 7:24) It is through our actions, done in the one faith, that our unity in the One Body of Christ will be known. Paul warned us in Galatians 5:15, “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” History has shown that to be true. Such “biting and devouring” can only be inspired by the Evil One. It is that creature alone in all of creation who wants to sow discord and division.
Do we not pray every day, “Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name?” That prayer begins as a recognition of our unity, that we are all children of one Father alone. “Thy kingdom come.” When we pray these three words, are we not aware that we are praying for the coming of that One kingdom under God, not our own peculiar and particular versions of it, or that of any other human origin? “Thy will be done.” Are we not praying in these four simple words that we will personally be able to humbly submit to God’s will, not ours, or any other human will, but God’s alone?. And what is the will? That we love one another as “I have loved you.” (John 13:34) Love is the force that unites us. Anything less gives rise to divisions.
Lord, we are still young in the faith. We know that you desire us to be One Body in your Son, Jesus Christ. Help us to see the causes of our many divisions and to begin the hard work that is necessary to unite us as One Body in Christ alone. It is our deepest prayer and desire to be united in our love for you and for one another. Encourage us, Lord, to see you in the faces of every one of our Christian brothers and sisters, indeed, in the faces of all, from the poorest of the poor and the forgotten to even the faces of our enemies. Our present world is crying out in its need to see that unity that will come from our loving one another in your name. Unite us in Love then, dear Lord. Help us to truly “live lives worthy of the calling we have received.” We pray this from the deepest part of our hearts, believing in the unifying power of your name, Jesus. Amen!
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