“Word for Today” – Ephesians 4 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

November 3, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

E Pluribus Unum 1E pluribus unum.  “Out of many, one.”  If only it were true.  Yes, this motto appears on our currency and on the seals of our president and vice-president.  It was even the de facto motto of our country before “In God we trust” was adopted in 1956.  But a perusal of a newspaper or a surf through some cable news channels quickly jars anyone who might be serenely snoring in the dust of an imaginary national unity and drags them wide awake into the harsh reality of our prevailing partisanship.  E pluribus plures.  “Out of many, many.”  We can’t seem to agree on much of anything.

I suppose it was bound to happen.  For trying to unify different people with different ideologies is no small feat.  And even if such a conglomerate of people is unified for a time, such unity never lasts.  For humans, thanks to sin, have a proclivity to fracture from each other rather than to walk with each other.

There is an old story about a man who is marooned on a desert island for nearly a decade. One day, mercifully, some rescuers finally come along.  Upon arriving, the rescuers find two shacks.  Thinking there is another castaway on the island, they ask the man, “Why are there two shacks?  Is someone else with you?”  “No,” replies the man.  “I sleep under the stars.  The shack is where I go to church.”  “What about the other shack?” inquire the rescuers.  “What’s that for?”  “Oh,” replies the man with an edge of indignation in his voice, “That’s where I used to go to church.”  E pluribus plures.  It seems humans will find a way to separate from each other – even when there’s only one human.

Like our nation’s historic motto, the Scriptures also issue a clarion call toward unity, as can be found in today’s reading from Ephesians 4: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (verse 3).  The difference between Scripture’s call to unity and our nation’s call to unity, however, is that whereas our nation takes the many and in vain tries to make them one, Scripture begins with the one God who then serves as the great unifier for his many people.  Indeed, this is exactly how the apostle Paul delineates Christian unity in this chapter.  He begins with the unity of God and his gifts:

There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you 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).

Paul uses the word “one” seven times in these verses.  Thus, the things of this list, describing God and his gifts, are the hallmark, source, and sustainer of true unity.  Paul then continues by explaining how this divine unity brings together the many in the body of Christ:

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (verses 11-13)

The one Christ gives gifts to his many people so that they may experience the joy and blessing of being unified by Christ.  Ex uno plures. “Out of one, many.”  This is how true and lasting unity happens – not by taking many disparate, dissident factions and striving to unify them by human effort, but by beginning with the unified Godhead whose unity can bring even the most dis-unified people together.  Praise be to God that we are one, not of ourselves, but in Christ!

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – Ephesians 3 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – Ephesians 5 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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