Preserving Unity, Building the Body
February 7, 2021
Ted was discouraged. He had written what he thought was a pretty entertaining children’s book. But it had been rejected by multiple publishers — 27, in fact. He had just decided to go home and burn the manuscript to the book when he ran into an old college friend, Mike McClintock, while walking on Madison Ave. in NYC. Mike had just been appointed as a children’s editor at Vanguard Press. Ted told him his story, and Mike invited Ted to his office; Mike read the manuscript, and ultimately bought it and then quickly bought two more from Ted. You might know the names of the books: And to Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street, The Cat in the Hat, and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Ted, of course, is Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.
In gratitude, Geisel wrote McClintock a short time later: “[Y]ou picked me off Madison Ave. with a manuscript that I was about to burn in my incinerator, because nobody would buy it. And you not only told me how to put Mulberry Street together properly…but after youʼd sweated this out with me, giving me the best and only good information I have ever had on the construction of a book for this mysterious market, you even took the stuff on the road and sold it.”
That story affirms the necessity of relationships. People need people. “Successful” people need people. We are not created to be alone. That is even more true in the church, as we discovered last Sunday when we considered the reality that God has made us unified — our unity is not something we do or something we pursue in order to accomplish it; our unity has been given to us as a grace gift. We are together.
But the passage before us this morning (Eph. 4:11-13) exhorts us to preserve the unity we have been given (v. 3) and then begins to instruct us how to preserve that unity (vv. 11ff).
At the beginning of each year, we spend time considering two priority spiritual disciplines — Bible intake and prayer. We have done that the past two Sundays. This year we will also address another topic — our relationships with one another — what we might call “the spiritual discipline of fellowship.” In fact, we will do that over a series of sermons this year, considering God’s instruction for building His body and preserving our unity and cultivating relationships and fellowship. There are many things we have missed because of COVID — one of the most significant losses has been the loss of relationship. If 2020 was marked by lost and broken relationships, then 2021 should be marked by healed and cultivated relationships. To help us return to and strengthen our priority of relationship, we are reminded that —
Because God has made us one body, we can (and must) preserve and build our mutual relationships.
In this passage, we find five implications of our unity and the necessity of relationships.
- We are All One (vv. 1-10)
- We All Have Gifts (v. 11)
- We are All Either Equipping or Being Equipped (v. 12a)
- We are All Either Serving or Being Served (v. 12b)
- We are All Cultivating a Mindset of Ministry Responsibility (v. 13)
Download the rest of this sermon on Ephesians 4:11-13.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.