E Pluribus Unum

Happy Veteran’s day – thank you to all who have served our country. We all long for the day forecast by Isaiah, when we’ll no longer train for war.

This Sunday we’ll be continuing our study in Ephesians (ch 4:1-16), and the theme of it can be embodied in the Latin phrase “E pluribus unum” – out of many, one.

Paul’s previous theme of unity will flow easily into chapter 4, where he begins his practical applications of what he described in the first three chapters. We’ll be breaking this into three parts: v1-6 where Paul reinforces the need for us to intentionally pursue unity; v 7-10 where he explains that unity isn’t uniformity and then v 11-16 where he expounds on the purpose of the church and its leadership.

As you read v1-6, take note of how all the character qualities he challenges us to embody all have a social outworking. If you were to turn this around and consider it from the negative, based on these verses – what do you think Paul would say is the biggest threat to the church? In what practical ways can we begin the process of drawing closer to each other as the church?

V7-10 take a brief detour, where Paul qualifies his statement on unity, reminding us that it’s not uniformity, we still have individual gifts given us. He quotes Psalm 68 to support his claim, but it only makes it a bit fuzzier for us as modern readers. We’ll dig into that more on Sunday – but if God has given us each a gift for the sake of the community, what might your gift be? That’s a subject worth praying about – and I think it can be anything from an ability to give a friendly smile to hearing messages from God for the community. Let’s be open to how God wants to use all of us!

When Paul does start describing the gifts God gave the church, he talks about people. I find that fascinating. We’ll talk about how Paul subverts the Greco-Roman ideal of honor and position on Sunday. There’s a lot to consider in this – suffice it to say, these are all job descriptions, not titles of position, and certainly not assumed because of earned status. Gift is the operative word. And who is the gift for?

Paul also describes the reason for these functions in the church – to equip the community for ministry. If that’s the case, where is ministry taking place, in Paul’s thinking? All of us joined together, from the many-one, form a better picture of who Jesus is!

I’m really looking forward to examining this passage together – hope you can join us this Sunday!

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