Over the last couple of weeks, we have been looking at our family Bible. This Bible was the family Bible of Jacob Farley Mayo, and it was passed on to my great grandfather, to my grandfather, my father, and now it has been passed down to me.
As we looked in the middle of the Bible, we saw that there were all of the births, marriages and deaths, but only as it continued down one family line. As we began to trace my family tree back and wide, we saw things that we never knew about. There is a lot more to my family than I knew, and we are just beginning to dig in.
I wonder how often we separate scripture, reading verses or a chapter, fail to make the connections that are there because of how we (or others) have broken scripture up.
We see a Bible with chapters and verses and assume that they were always there. We may even assume that each section has its purpose in and of itself. Chapters and verses weren’t there in the beginning though. They were added to make it easier to read, but sometimes they break things up in such a way as we miss how they all tie together.
Today is one of those days where, if we look, we see that there is a broader focus of scripture that crosses chapter boundaries. Our scripture reading today, for those reading through the Bible in 2 years with us, was Ephesians 3-4.
For those who regularly read the Bible, I am sure that there is a section in there that sticks out to you. Maybe it is the knowing of ”how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. (Eph. 3:18).” Maybe it’s the benediction at the end of chapter three, or the unity that’s called for in chapter 4. But all of these things aren’t meant to be seen in a vacuum, all separated from one another.
In the end of chapter 4, Paul discusses the call to live new lives. He tells us what these lives should look like in the end of chapter 4 through to chapter 6, but chapters 3-4 (and even 2) give us the framework for how this is to happen. Earlier in chapter 4 we read about the gifts given to everyone so that we may all reach maturity in Christ.
How does that happen? Through unity in the body. If we aren’t united, then the roles that God has given to different people won’t work for the edification (building up) of the body. And in Ephesians 4:1, the beginning of the cal to unity, we start with the word “therefore.” As I heard someone share from a professor she studied under, when we the the word therefore, we should look to see what it was put there for.
How can there be diversity in unity? How can we come together and be united when we have different cultural beliefs, when we have different political beliefs, when we come from such diverse theological, physiological and socioeconomic backgrounds?
He is able!
We are called to be a multiethnic church since the dividing wall of hostility (Eph. 2:14) has been demolished through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. This sets the stage for the call to unity we see in chapter 4. “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.” Eph. 4:4-6
He is able to make this a reality!
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever,! Amen.” (Eph. 3:20-21 NIV)
How can we live as He has called us to live? How can we be united and live as one?
He is able!
And how does He make this possible? By living in us and dwelling in our hearts! In Him we area able to understand that He love us, and out of HIs love we are able to love others, to live in unity, and to be the people He calls us to be.
Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Paul realizes how small he is, even though we consider him to be a giant in his faith. We see a giant, and Paul sees himself as “less than the least of all the Lord’s people.” (Eph. 2:8)
Without Christ and the Holy Spirit living in his heart, he is nothing. Yet with the Holy Spirit, God uses him in a mighty way. With God all things are possible!
And what about us?
Are we seeking to live as He calls us to live? Are we doing everything we can to see unity in the body? Do we understand that without His power we are nothing, but that all things are possible with Him? And can we recognize that as humans beings we are nothing compared to God, and yet like a billionaire falling in love with a penny, so God loves us!