by Tony Nester

One Body, One Spirit
Pastor Tony R. Nester
Ephesians 4:1-5

I heard about a customer who walked into a coffee shop on Halloween and found a waitress behind the counter with a bunch of sponges pinned to her uniform. The customer said, "I'm assuming this is a costume, but what are you supposed to be?" The waitress replied, "Self-absorbed."

It was a clever costume. Unfortunately, being self-absorbed isn't only a costume -- it's the way too many people live.

Today is World Communion Sunday. It's a day for Christ-followers to check to see if they've taken off their sponges of self-absorption.

Instead of being self-absorbed, Paul insists that believers have been united to one another through Christ:

(Ephesians 4:4-5 NRSV) "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, {5} one Lord, one faith, one baptism."

This oneness, this unity is precious. It has been given to us a great cost. The price paid for this unity was the broken and bleeding body of Christ on the cross.

As Paul told us in Chapter 2:

(Ephesians 2:14-18 NRSV) "[Christ Jesus] is our peace; in his flesh he ...has broken down the dividing wall.. between us ...thus making peace, {16} and might reconcile [us] to God in one body through the cross..."

This precious, costly unity is Christ's gift to us. Paul begs us to preserve this gift. "Make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:2-3 NRSV).

Here Paul uses an interesting word. Our English word "maintain" in verse 3 doesn't do justice to Paul's choice of words. Maintenance sounds to us like routine, even dreary work. But Paul uses a word in Greek that was applied to soldiers who were "maintaining" -- i.e. "guarding" -- prisoners. Since Paul reminds us in verse 1 that he himself is a prisoner for Christ, perhaps Paul got his idea from watching his Roman guards.

Soldiers must not lose hold of their prisoner -- they could be e ...

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