May 30, 2013

Ephesians -Chapter 4 - " how are your relationships?"


noun, the state of being one; oneness. /  a whole or totality as combining all its parts into one / oneness of mind, feeling, etc., as among a number of persons; concord, harmony, or agreement 

Psalm 133
1How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
2It is like precious oil poured on the head,
running down on the beard,
running down on Aaron’s beard,
down on the collar of his robe.
3It is as if the dew of Hermon
were falling on Mount Zion.
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore.

My study bible commentator says that "...the oil of Aaron's (the high priest) anointing saturated all the hair of his beard and ran down on his priestly robes, signifying his total consecration to holy service.  Similarly, brotherly harmony sanctifies God's people."  When I read Ephesians Chapter 4, I am reminded of this Old Testament passage in Psalm 133 exclaiming "How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity!"

This letter of Ephesians that Paul wrote to Ephesus, was written from a Roman prison.  Paul had plenty of time to write, and he carefully developed his letter as the Holy Spirit guided him.  As we look into Ephesians chapter 4, we can quickly see Paul's focus ....he developed his letter as overseer to address the needs of the church, and his focus here is definitely on "unity in the body of Christ".   As mentioned earlier in our study of Chapter 2,  
  • first, RECONCILIATION with God, and 
  • second, RECONCILIATION with others (church).    
Frankly, if this isn't describing how you or I are conducting ourselves around our brother's and sisters in the Lord...then something in our lives need changing.  Let's read the text and let it speak for itself!

Unity and Maturity in the Body of Christ

1As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph.4:1-6)

In 1983, I was the team leader for a group of six pilots and mechanics for a para-church organization relief project in Africa.  Employed with Mission Aviation Fellowship, our mission was to fly food grains into the very isolated famine afflicted rural areas throughout rural Ethiopia for World Vision, utilizing the DeHavilland Twin Otter.   This was the project that through the BBC reporter we carried in 1984, brought the world's attention to bear on Ethiopia in a huge way, bringing rocker Bob Geldof into the picture with his relief concert series.  This was however,  "back in the day" before fax or computers or internet email or cellphones were even invented.  Telephone services in backwoods or "down-country" Ethiopia were few and far between.  When we came back to Addis Ababa for scheduled maintenance, we had access to teletype machines. Our Support/Ops in California required regular reporting on our project's progress, and so when we gathered our reports together we'd breathlessly watch the teletype machine deliver the synopsis, reporting on our endeavors.  Because of our isolation, everything we did, we did together. We worked together, ate together, toured together, vacationed together, laughed together & yes, we fought together... and it was very intense.  There were few secrets...everybody knew exactly everything about each other...warts and all.   It was perhaps an ideal setting for what we now term "reality television".   While our filed reports provided HQ, who were 11,000 miles away with a vague idea of our accomplishments, they had only a few clues as to how we were really getting along with each other inter-personally.

As long as I live, I will never forget the first question that our department head asked me when he stopped in for his six-month overseas visit and began to interview me on how the program was going.  The main question he had as he looked into my eyes was "...So how are your relationships?"

His question floored me!  Obstensibly, our stats were amazing.  We delivered the goods with extreme preciseness and regularity....we set ops and safety records that to this day HQ uses to brag on us to other NGO's (non-governmental organizations).  We achieved unparalled utilization that got the attention of the manufacturer, DeHavilland, even though we operated to our home-made airstrips up at 10,000 feet above sea level (ISA  +20C / 13,000' density altitude conditions) with consequent ops & logistical challenges while an ongoing civil war raged a few miles distant.  Hmmm...Yes, we really performed!

The truth however was, being young and around christians 24/7 wasn't really all that easy in such an intense isolated situation so far from home.  We were immature.  When we didn't get our own way, we battled, argued and fought.  We would put ourselves first instead of second..."deference" was sometimes the last thing on our minds.  We would "make-up" from time-to-time, though...yet the cycle would repeat as our humanity overtook us, ....we really hadn't developed our inter-personal or conflict management skills.

Contrary to what many think, good relationships don't just happen....they are forged.  That is, they are willfully, intentionally banged out like a silversmith making jewelry, with a hammer and an anvil,  one step at a time.    The Holy Spirit's instruction to us here in Ephesians 4 is a masterful recipe for church relationships and kingdom conflict resolution.

  • live a life worthy of the calling you have received
  • be completely humble
  • be gentle
  • be patient
  • bear with one another in love
  • make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace
  • re: verse 4 ...when your done your rant against someone else's theology or viewpoint remember  "...there is one body and one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all"

Psalm 133
How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
For there the Lord bestows his blessing,
even life forevermore.

Do you want a blessing?  What can you do to promote unity in your church? my Aunt Doris used to say..."if it's going to be, it's up to me!"  Nothing much in life happens except through relationship!

> NEXT: Chapter 4b - "Christianity 101"

No comments:

Post a Comment