Click here to listen to this sermon.

Unity (Ephesians 4:1-6)
Psalm 133: How good and pleasant it is when God's people live together in unity! It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron's beard, down on the collar of his robe. It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

It may seem strange to us that oil running down the head and beard of Moses’ brother, Aaron, the High Priest, should be good and pleasant. Our experience is different, but the anointing oil poured out generously – so generously that it soaks the collar of the priest’s robe – is an image of God’s gracious blessings being poured out on us.
What immediately strikes us in the Psalm is that all this wonderful experience of goodness and eternal life is connected to God’s people living together in unity. Unity is really special, but sometimes we take it for granted or we overlook it because we are anxious or concerned about other things. That’s easy to do when we think that unity is our project, but the Psalmist and Paul (in Ephesians) agree that God has created unity.
We do not come together to create unity, but simply to proclaim it. We are bound together by God who pours out the blessings of life.
Unity is God’s work. He made it so. We simply keep it. We keep it by conducting our lives in such a way that we understand how we have this ones in God.
One Body and One Lord (We are united as the church with a single head over the church)
One Spirit and One Faith (We are united through our common faith with a single spirit)
One Hope and One Baptism (We are united through our baptism with a single hope)
We believe that there is One God and that shapes the way we live. Unity is oneness in God.

Diversity (Ephesians 4:7-12)
But unity doesn’t mean that everyone is exactly the same. Unity doesn’t come from making us all alike and having us do the same thing. In fact, the unity comes from gifting people with various sorts of spiritual gifts and roles in the body but having those diverse parts work together.
Let’s not confuse unity with uniformity. Uniformity is like Henry Ford’s old statement about the Model T – “You can any color you want as long as it is black.” Oneness in God doesn’t mean that we each get handed the same uniform set of gifts and talents.
Our diversity is just as much a gift of God as is our unity. Christ, who is triumphant over death, gives gifts. Some are apostles, some are prophets, some are evangelists, some are pastors and teachers.
        What’s Happening at West-Ark - Family Meeting tonight - Multiple roles and talents
1. God has given each one of us a gift.
2. The gifts serve a purpose within the body of Christ. They are not ends in themselves.
One role isn’t better than another; they all work collaboratively for the same purpose: maturity. God is working through these various gifts to gain the same single result: maturity

Maturity (Ephesians 4:13-16)
The body of Christ grows “organically.” The church is a growing organism. It can be healthy or unhealthy. [V. 14] When we are not growing, we are immature. Paul loves to mix his metaphors: we are “infants” thrown around by whatever wave or wind comes our way. The common element of this metaphor mix is that we are vulnerable. One of the hardest things to learn as a parent is that you cannot shelter your children forever. Really our duty as parents is to help our children grow up. As the old saying goes, we teach them to stand on their own two feet.
We often say that the leaders of the church are responsible for feeding the flock, but Scripture doesn’t say much about “spoon feeding” the flock. We are expected to mature. One of the worst ways to protect the people of God from false doctrine is to run around nervously reacting to anything that seems dangerous. The best way to protect the people of God is to help the people of God grow up.
The alternative to being vulnerable to the extremes and schemes is to become more and more like Christ. In the ancient world, the head was regarded as the source of growth. So also in the body of Christ, the head of the church (Christ) is the source of growth and the goal of growth.
As we grow in truth and love, we develop the character of Christ; thus our “health” as a congregation increases and we keep the unity that God has given us. And the diversity doesn’t mean we are unhealthy as long as the different gifts and talents and leaders and contributors work towards maturity.
1. Unity: The head directs the growth.
2. Diversity: Each part does its work.

Fitness Walk
The other metaphor in this text (other than growth and health) is “walking.” Going back to verse 1, we are to walk worthy of our calling. Walking is a biblical metaphor for the way we live. We understand this in phrases like “If you talk the talk, you had better walk the walk.” Our worthy walk is a health walk. Our “walk” should be worthy of our calling. We are walking toward maturity in Christ.

Keep this in mind for our Family Meeting: Our programs, budgets, policies, buildings, etc. are not sacred in and of themselves. We don’t contribute and maintain them simply for the sake of doing sake. They have a greater purpose. They are resources and therefore means to an end.
Something as simple as a hammer and nail are resources. But when is the last time you read a book or watched a program all about hammering? Why is that? Because hammering is not the end. It is a means to an end. It is a technique that serves the purpose of constructing: building a house. [But even a house is not the final goal. A house is subordinate to a home. A carpenter can build a house, but the carpenter’s family makes the home.]

Our goal is maturity in Christ and all of our resources and programs are aimed at helping us develop the character and virtues (see v. 2) that are reflective of that. Our “walk” toward maturity leads to a “fit body.” We are after all very diverse people with a diversity of gifts, but God has fit us together just as he sees fit.
Walking with a purpose and destination ...

God gave us the unity. God gave us the diversity. Let us strive for maturity.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 29 April 2007

 Link to next sermon

 Link to other sermons of Chris Benjamin