Ephesians 4: 3-7
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.
Our desire for deep connection and relational health comes from God Himself who dwells in community - that is unity and diversity. He is one God but three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Each person of the Trinity is equal, distinct and unique in personality and in the role they play. As we are made in God's image and likeness, we too long for relationships that mirror our Creator's.
Do you notice the word Paul repeats over and over again in these few verses? 'One'. Seven times it is used in reference to the seven spiritual realities that unite all Christians. Every part of Jesus' Body throughout the world, in every age, have been built and united upon these seven foundational facets.
In our society, most organisations and institutions come together based on commonality of age or race or education or interest. The church, however, is the most unique and diverse group of people on the planet. Our foundation of unity isn't that we all think or act the same way. It's not that we all like each other and always get along. It's not even that we all believe exactly the same things or that we are part of a particular church. It's simply that our lives are centred on the person and work of Jesus. That's it. It doesn't matter what race you are, what education you have, if you're young or old, if you are a prince or a pauper - in Jesus we are one. He is our cornerstone. And while the foundations aren't the house itself, without them, we have nothing stable or solid to build upon.
Notice that Paul assumes that unity is the norm in the church. That's why he tells us to "keep" or "preserve" the unity. (v. 3) Just look after and protect what's already there. In an increasingly fractured and fragmented world, we can choose to focus on our differences or we can build upon what unites us. While the world seeks to build relationships on attraction and commonality, the people of God build on a stronger, deeper, more durable foundation. We do not tolerate our differences, rather we celebrate them. We aren't seeking perfect relationships, but healthy ones.
How can we preserve our unity? By allowing the Spirit to saturate our lives and interactions. The cement binding us together isn't our specific preferences, but the Spirit's presence, or "...the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." (v. 3) Human methods or programmes can never create true unity or even authentic community - only the inner working of the Holy Spirit can bring real, deep peace into our lives and relationships.
In 1992, U2 released a song called 'One' partly inspired by the fractured relationships within the band at the time. It serves as a declaration, similar to the Apostle Paul's, of what unites us:
You got to do what you should
With each other
But we're not the same
We get to carry each other
Carry each other