“Unity in the Body of Christ”
“Therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:1-6, NRSV)
COVID 19 led all our lives to change in many ways, such as all systems, institutions, and even personal lifestyles. As if we were imprisoned at home like criminal sinners, we should stay at home for about 80 days under government order. All buildings should be closed, such as schools, stores, restaurants, and even churches. We could not gather together in person. People should wear facemasks and keep social distancing 6 ft apart from each other when they go to grocery or public places. Like a tornado, COVID 19 blew up over us and broke our weak parts down socially, economically, politically, and spiritually. Many lost their loved ones, jobs, shelters, along with their peace and safety.
On the other hand, “Keeping social distancing” and the “Stay at home order” made us familiar with media and technologies. Somehow, social media led us to comfortable lives and individualist lives. Furthermore, COVID 19 seemed to lead us to go far from God with “no church gathering, and no Sunday service in the building” reasonably. However, we never lose at the spiritual war. We are still connected in the love of Christ. Through “Calling Tree” and the “Prayer Chain,” we cared for one another. We were still dedicated and sent our gifts and offerings to sustain our beloved church. Moreover, we used social media to contact one another, to have Sunday service, and to have church meetings. We did a great job in the war of COVID 19!
Now, we need to be ready to gather together. It is time to think about the church. It is time to stand up and go along because we are the church that God called. The early church community also had a crisis moment, such as persecution from outside and division inside a community. The Apostle Paul says to them, “I, the prisoner, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” As Paul says, we have been called to the church of Christ. As in the past, the present, we are called to be one church. We should respond to God as a life worthy of the calling with all humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another in love.
The Psalmist wrote, “How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!” We are the churches that gather together in one church through God’s calling. The call to Christian living is a call to unity of the fellowship of believers in love. We should understand that the love which unites the community of faith is, God’s powerful love, for the call here to Christian unity in love is based ultimately on the singularity of God, and on the body of Christ. For the community of believers, life together unified by love is nothing more or less than the experience of the Holy Spirit’s power.
The Apostle Paul says, “there is one body and Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all and through all and in all. We believe that God is one, our savior Jesus Christ is one, and the Holy Spirit is also one. Paul says, “there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28). Christian unity does not mean there are no differences or distinctions among members of the community of faith. We must see that whatever distinctions we recognize in terms of our talents, tendencies, languages, cultures, and capacities are legitimate because when they work together, they build up the church, the community of faith. Our Lord gave each of us whatever good gifts we have with the express purpose of harmony.
Paul says, “now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.”(1 Cor. 12:4-7) As Christians, we are called to a unified life of love in the power of the Holy Spirit for the mutual benefit of the entire church. I believe that God unifies us in the body of Christ. The church of Christ by the Holy Spirit works and grows in the unity of the faith.
As a body, the image of the church is familiar from 1 Corinthians 12, Paul identifies Christ as the church’s head, and the church is the body of Christ. The head provides coordination for the whole body. According to the head’s coordination, each of us builds up the church with unique gifts such as bricks, wood boards, glass, and even hidden small nails.
The church was begun by witnesses who saw Jesus Christ, who died on the cross, was resurrected, lifted to God, and maintained by those who believe in God through the Holy Spirit. If the early church community could not be together, scattered like sheep that had lost the shepherd, I wonder if the Good News could come to us in these days. They kept their faith in Christ, being together by the Holy Spirit.
Social Media indeed leads to useful lives. However, it makes us be individualists. Imagine that when family members are around a table, a wife uses a smartphone, a husband reads a newspaper, a boy plays a game with a computer, and a girl is watching TV without any conversation one another. What do you think about it? Even though they live in a house, but they do not care for one another. As God is the living God, the church is also the existing body of Christ.
If one believes in God and falls and goes away from God, who can help one? The Letter of Ecclesiastes says, “for if they fall, one will lift up the other; but woe to one who is alone and falls and does not have another to help.” (Eccl. 4:10) God gave us the church community as the body of Christ because we are too weak to keep our faith alone. We should grow together up close to God. Let us equip ourselves for building the body of Christ with one another in love humbly because God unifies us in the body of Christ.