19. Why I should love others.
Ephesians 4:4 “For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.” (NLT)
Paul gives several reasons why I should make every effort to love others – in case I need incentive. (1) In spite of all the denominations of Christian churches that exist today, for those who follow Christ as Savior and Lord, there is only one body of Christ on earth: the (“capital-C”) Church. Encouraging the unity of all who are part of the Church is important for our own spiritual health and also for our accurate reflection of God’s love and grace to those outside the Church.
(2) I also need to remind myself that the Holy Spirit whom I see at work in the local church I attend, is the same Spirit at work in all other gatherings of Christ-followers. I need a more global view of what God is doing in the world today in order to appreciate the beauty and effectiveness of the Church. It’s so easy for me to focus on the local ministry I’m familiar with and the few overseas ministries we support (e.g., our Compassion kids, the missionaries we support with prayer and gifts, etc.) and forget about the huge numbers of believers who are being led by the Spirit around the world. Even in our own country there is such variety in the way believers worship and follow the Spirit. I need to remind myself that the Church is a lot larger and more diverse than the community of believers who gather in our building.
(3) We all have the same “glorious hope for the future.” In his commentary on Ephesians, O’Brien explains that Paul is referring to the hope we have in God’s purpose in bringing everything in heaven and earth together under Christ. “As a foretaste of this grand hope the very existence of the church, a society of pardoned rebels, a multiracial community in which Jews and Gentiles have been brought together in unity in the one body, is the means God uses to manifest his richly diverse wisdom to the principalities and powers in the heavenly realm. Thus, Paul reinforces his admonition [to work towards unity] by reminding his readers of the hope held out in their calling. A sense of expectancy, therefore, should motivate and unify their actions.”* Helping to bring together and unify this global Church, this godly Bride of Christ, is certainly worth our wholehearted effort.
Questions I want to ponder: How does this break down into thoughts and actions that I can do now to help build unity in the church? How can I develop a love for others – for those I know and those I have not yet met?
It is only by Your Holy Spirit that I will develop a deep love for others. I recognize my need for my heart to become like Yours. Make me more like You, Father. Show me at least a small way I can love a spiritual sister or brother today. For their sake and for Your sake and for my sake. Amen
*O’Brien, Peter T (1999). The Letter to the Ephesians. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, p. 282.