Paul paints a beautiful picture of communion and community when he writes the Ephesians:
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.” (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and for and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ — from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. – Ephesians 4:1-16
Unity of the Spirit – let’s go after that! I love the way in which Paul says to approach this endeavor: with all lowliness and gentleness, with long suffering, bearing with one another in love. This requires true humility. We don’t bring anything of our own to the table. All that we have to offer, as individuals, are free gifts from God (our talents, skillsets, abilities, ideas, etc.). Paul instructed Timothy so well with these words:
The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. – 1 Timothy 1:5 NLT
The unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace is walking in forgiveness with a clear conscience, becoming that forgiveness to others with a sincere heart, and believing (agreeing with) truth fully. We must become LOVE. So, how do we do that? We must not only humble ourselves with one another – first, we must humble ourselves to come before the Lord, get a hold of His truth (perspective), and surrender to His getting a hold of you. It is with our intimacy with our Father, the very thing Jesus made possible, that we receive our true identity of LOVE. It is in communion that we find the seeds for community. We can’t truly love one another if we can’t love and be loved by our Father. Dan Mohler said it well in this short clip.
Getting alone with the Lord, allows us to get over ourselves. As He fills us with who He is, we are enabled to go out and look like Him. When we re-present Him to others, His presence draws them into that intimate place as well. This new creation life is contagious! I will leave you with this:
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father. – Philippians 2:1-11 MSG