Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3
We live in a divided world. Sometimes it feels as if the divisions between our various tribes have never been more stark and painful. It’s almost impossible to imagine a world in which there is unity among people who aren’t pretty much the same.But Ephesians 4:3 calls us to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Why? Why make every effort to preserve unity? Why is unity such a big deal?
The unity being addressed in Ephesians 4:3 is unity among God’s people in Christ. Other kinds of unity matter, but they aren’t in view here. The unity of the church is the focus of this passage.
Why does this kind of unity matter? First of all, notice the verb in the phrase “keep the unity of the Spirit.” Unity among God’s people is not something we fabricate on our own. Rather, it is a work of God that we can either keep or destroy. It is a result of what God has done through Christ, who died in order to “create in himself one new humanity out of the two [Jew and Greek], thus making peace” (Ephesians 2:15). The Holy Spirit takes new believers and unites them in the church, the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-14).
Second, the verb translated here as “make every effort” is spoudazo, which means “be zealous or eager.” Thus, we make every effort to preserve Christian unity not only because it is right for us to do so, but also because we feel zealous about unity. As people in touch with the heart of God, we desire church unity because God desires it. We are zealous for unity because Christ died for it. Thus, we do all in our power to preserve it.
By analogy, as the people of God, we will also seek unity in other settings of life, in our families and neighborhoods, in our workplaces and cities, in our nations and in the whole world. Followers of Jesus are blessed to be peacemakers in our world, those who seek God’s justice and healing, and who seek to live out our calling through humility, gentleness, patience, and love (4:2).