Proposition: The church and the individual must respond to God's challenge.
I. RETAIN UNITY, vs. 3-6
A. One bodyII. RECOGNIZE DIVERSITY, vs. 7-12
B. One Spirit
C. One hope
D. One Lord
E. One faith
F. One baptism
G. One God
A. Each gift is given by Christ.III. REACH MATURITY, vs. 13-16
B. Each gift enriches the church.
A. We must no longer be spiritual infants.Conclusion: Let us never be content, but keep on growing. Let us also provide a climate in which others can grow. Let us encourage them.
B. We must strive to grow.
C. Our goal is to measure up to Christ. We keep working on that through life. Though we never quite achieve it
here, we may achieve it hereafter in Heaven.
It is important to remember that Jesus did not quit
meeting with His disciples because Judas was a traitor and a thief, because
Peter was fickle, or because Thomas had his doubts. His disciples
were at times rude, thoughtless, unkind, and selfish. His disciples
still sometimes manifest those attitudes. But He does not forsake
them; nor should weforsake them. Rather, we are to encourage the best and
overlook and forgive the rest. In this way, we can create a cIimate
for growth, all the while being thankful that people have been patient
with us as well.
A worried father asked the doctor why his baby had
not laughed. The doctor explained that a baby does not ordinarily
laugh until the age of four weeks. "At that time," he said to the
father, "the baby can see you clearly!"
The Fuller brush is famous. It all began with
a shy, twenty-year-old man who had not done well in school. He lost
the first three jobs he had and could not find another. In desperation,
he began to make brushes. Then he started selling them, door to door.
He did pretty well. He found that there were things he could do well,
and he did them.
Two brothers in Scotland fell into an argument over
the division of their father's estate. They came before a very wise
judge who settled it this way: "Let one brother divide the estate
into two parts, and let the other brother pick which part he wants!"
Money is only one of the things that divides brothers. Even Christian
brothers sometimes divide; but it is rarely over anything important.
Sometimes it is over power, or prestige, or popularity, or personality.
Christ has a solution even better than that of the Scoftish judge.
Paul expresses it when he says, "Let each esteem the other better than
The seven sides of unity in Ephesians 4 are not the
units of unity. The units of unity are individuals, but these are
the facets of unity. As a diamond has many faces, so the lovely jewel
of Christianity has many dimensions. Each dimension is important.
No dimension may be safely ignored. Only when all seven faces are
shining brightly does unity sparkle with radiant beauty.
We used to speak of "growing pains." Growing up is indeed a painful process, as any adolescent knows and as any parent of an adolescent knows! Growing up spiritually is painful, too. It takes time. We are foolish to expect instant maturity on the part of Christians. We are equally foolish if we are content with stunted growth and arrested development. Somewhere in between those two extremes we must stand: encouraging growth and development, yet not expecting instant maturity.