Through the last couple of posts we’ve seen that 1 + 1 + 1 = 1 (the Trinity) and that 1 + 1 = 1 (marriage). There remains one other of God’s mysterious math equations that stops me in my tracks with amazement. 1 + x = 1: where x represents not zero, but the vast number of all other Christians in our world! For those untrained in Algebra, I’m essentially saying that the Body of Christ is made up of many entities that constitute a single unit. Sound familiar?
“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (NASB)
“Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6 (NASB)
Several things stand out about these passages:
1. There is unity to our plurality. But unity defines who we are—it’s not something that we try to create. When you or I enter into a covenant relationship with Christ, we enter into a sacred and binding covenant with all other believers. Our identities become shared as we are called Christians. We truly are blood brothers and sisters united by His blood!
2. Our interaction with other Christians is to be exemplified by humility, gentleness, patience and tolerance—all various dimensions of love. Christ’s command for us to love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34) is neither shallow nor optional.
3. The unity of the Church is defined not just by a legal and binding covenant, but by the presence of the Holy Spirit—God Himself. At salvation every Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit as they are born again to a new type of existence. Think of it! The very same Holy Spirit who dwells in you dwells, in me. Taking things a step further, the very same Spirit who dwells in believing Catholics dwells in believing Baptists and believing Methodists and believing Presbyterians and believing Pentecostals, etc.
4. We are called to diligence in preserving “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” This means effort! Humility, gentleness, patience and tolerance are commanded because all are absolutely necessary if we are to honor God in our relationships with one another. Let’s face it, Christians don’t always act in a manner worthy of their calling. But this is not an acceptable excuse for us to not love them!
The implications of God’s covenant math are HUGE–both for good and for bad! More will be said in the coming weeks, but for now I’ll leave you with Ephesians 4:4-6 as it reads in the Message Bible:
“You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.”