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The Spark and Sustainer of the Church

• Greg Boyd

One need not look very far to see examples of discord, hostility and disunity within humanity and even within creation. Culture wars, political wars, theological wars and military wars abound. What, we might ask, is the source of all this hostility? And, more importantly, what is the source of true peace, true unity, true harmony? Paul tells us in Ephesians that Jesus is the one true peace. Jesus IS our peace and the Holy Spirit is the unifier. A new president or policy or military leader or social activist will not bring peace. Only when people accept the one (Jesus) who IS peace, who IS harmony will true unity come.

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In the beginning God created the world. Every facet of creation would be one part to the whole. Every distinct thing was intricately created for its purpose within the whole. The beauty of God’s unity and diversity is reflected in creation and humans have the freedom to choose the harmony that God created within creation.

Discord, disunity and hostility are the result of humanity choosing their own way rather than living within the beauty of God’s harmony.

Ages ago there were angels, with Lucifer as their leader, who decided to opt out of God’s harmonious creation. And somewhere along the way they convinced humans to rebel against the true harmony God intended. Now, humans sing their own song. We go our own way and discord rises.

But God did not and does not give up on God’s original intention for true unity.

Unity is a significant purpose for the incarnation. Paul tells us in Ephesians 1 that Jesus came to bring unity: “With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” (Eph. 1: 9-10) Jesus comes to reconcile the whole creation to himself. To bring unity to ALL things in heaven and on earth. Jesus brings unity and harmony. Furthermore, Jesus himself is the unifier. “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.” (Eph. 2: 14-16)

Jesus creates ONE new humanity out of the two. On the cross, Jesus puts to death hostility, discord and disunity and brings forth one new humanity. Jesus doesn’t just help us harmonize, he IS our harmony. Jesus doesn’t just teach us about peace, he IS our peace. Jesus is the masterpiece. If we’re living in Jesus, we will live in harmony! Jesus is the unity of the human race!

But we still live in a world of discord. In a world that doesn’t yet acknowledge the one new humanity, the church is to be a witness to the truth that Jesus IS our peace. The church is the witness to Christ. This is why unity within the church is of paramount importance – because it is a witness for the rest of creation!

Ephesians 4 tells us, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 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.”

Paul is telling us to live a life worthy of our calling, our calling as one new humanity. We walk consistently with this calling when we make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit. We don’t create the unity of the Spirit – Rather we maintain it! When human beings try to bring unity, it’s usually a temporary tolerance if that. The Spirit’s role is to take everything that belongs to Christ and apply it to our lives. Therefore, the Spirit is the sustainer, working in our hearts to create unity among humanity.

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Topics: Community, Holy Spirit, Peace

Sermon Series: God In Us


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Focus Scripture:

  • Ephesians 4:1-6

    As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 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.

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One thought on “The Spark and Sustainer of the Church

    Dave PRITCHARD says: Wednesday September 7, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    Towards the end of the message Greg also brings forth a more nascent and emerging truth inherent in this passage.

    There is….

    One Body
    One Spirit
    One Hope
    One Lord
    One Faith
    One Baptism
    One God
    One Father
    …….Over All and through All and in All – Eph. 4- 6

    So what that essentially means retrospectively; Is that there is also –

    ‘One Suffering’

    For every cancer that was not healed, for every heart that was not mended, for every unspoken tragedy, act of violence or immeasurable evil, God was and is right there in the midst of our suffering; riding the storm of our lives out with us. Even if our boat crashes against the rocks and sinks and even if we drown – He’ll do that too!

    “Grace transforms our failings full of dread into abundant, endless comfort … our failings full of shame into a noble, glorious rising … our dying full of sorrow into holy, blissful life. …. Just as our contrariness here on earth brings us pain, shame and sorrow, so grace brings us surpassing comfort, glory, and bliss in heaven … And that shall be a property of blessed love, that we shall know in God, which we might never have known without first experiencing woe.”

    ― Julian of Norwich, Revelations of Divine Love

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