January 10, 2016
Tom Pennington tells the story recounted in the book Great Church Fights by Leslie Flynn. The tale recounts a feud in a Welsh church looking for a new pastor. The newspaper article read this way —
Yesterday the two opposition groups both sent ministers to the pulpit. Both spoke simultaneously, each trying to shout above the other. Both called for hymns, and the congregation sang two — each side trying to drown out the other. Bibles were raised in anger. The Sunday morning service turned into bedlam. Through it all, the two preachers continued to out shout each other with their sermons. Eventually, a deacon called a policeman. Two came in and began shouting for the congregation to be quiet. They advised the 40 persons in the church to return home. The rivals filed out, still arguing. Last night one of the group called a ‘let’s be friends’ meeting. It broke up in argument. [p. 53.]
That humorous story is not so humorous when the realities of church conflict are considered. And it is patently obvious that such fighting is inconsistent with salvation. So how will we live in unity with one another? And even more, how will we cultivate fellowship and community (joyful unity) with one another?
In the book of Ephesians, Paul’s first three chapters expound the riches that the believer has in his salvation, and in chapter four, Paul begins applying those truths. How does the believer act in light of the salvation he has received? And the first principle Paul applies is the necessity of unity and community. Because we have been saved with a common faith and into one body, we should live in community and unity with one another.
We might summarize what Paul says this way —
A worthy life preserves the unity God has created in the church.
In this passage, Paul will give us five attitudes and actions to practice in order to maintain unity and community.
Context: Live Worthy of the Gospel You’ve Received (v. 1)
- Be Humble with One Another (v. 2)
- Be Gentle with One Another (v. 2)
- Be Patient with One Another (v. 2)
- Be Tolerant of One Another (v. 2)
- Be Unified with One Another (v. 3)
Download the rest of this sermon from Ephesians 4:1-3.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website later today.