One Body

[Eph. 4:4]---'There is one body and one Spirit.'

In the Epistle to the Corinthians St. Paul draws out the idea of the body---many members, each with its own proper functions, its own proper activity, all working together; the action of the hand never opposed to the action of the foot; no schism in the body; but all the members perfectly and naturally co-operating to fashion out the one life. The interpretation is at once clear. Each Christian man and woman is a member in the one Body of Christ. None may go his own ways or seek his own ends. None is independent of his fellow Christians. But all [in the ideal] work together and live one life, each taking that particular part in the one life which God assigns to him. Here, in this later Epistle, St. Paul carries forward and explains his earlier parable. What is the reason of the unity of the human body? Why do the limbs co-operate? Because in a man the members are all ruled by one will. The one spirit controls the many members. Not otherwise is it with the Body of Christ. The one Holy Spirit has been given to all. The one Spirit inspires all, governs all, controls all, energizes all. We are all one man, one personality, in Christ Jesus.

This unity, then, is what we have to realize. And truly the Christian Church [in spite of all belief in its essential 'one-ness'] has ever found it hard, and even impracticable, to realize in deed this grand ideal. In the days of the Apostle it was hard to reconcile two diverse elements that, for century on century, had stood defiant, confronted in truceless opposition---the Jew, with his pride of faith and exclusive revelation; the Gentile with his pride of power, his pride of intellect, and his easy-going indifference to all that was non-material. To St. Paul, beyond all others, it was given [in God's Providence] to bridge this strange gulf, to surmount this forbidding barrier, to see that in Christ the dividing wall was gone, the discord swept away. In his age, and in all ages, there was, and ever is, a constant tendency to set aside the vision as too great and too magnificent to be achieved by man. We dare not lift our eyes to the eternal hills; we dare not face the splendor of man's God-given destiny. Instead we shroud and veil them, or bend them to the earth, and live as men and women to whom was never vouchsafed a vision so uplifting, an ideal so Divine.

Three ways in which we may seek to realize this unity are: in unity of life, in unity of service, and in unity of worship.

In the unity of life.---Find Christians where you will, they will be men of one unmistakable character; men with affections set 'on things above, not on things on the earth'; men with constant aspirations after a better life which no experience of failure can daunt; men ceaselessly longing to be purer and meeker, and more thoughtful and more tender, and helped in wonderful ways towards the accomplishment of their desires. We shall know them by the sanctity of their souls, by the love that inspires them, by the deep sense of sin they fight in their lives, by the reverence for righteousness and the constant regard for God which lend at once elevation and sobriety to their character. They are men who have the stamp of Christ upon them---feebly and imperfectly it may be, yet really there---showing itself in their judgment of present things, and the hopes they cherish for the future. This broad line distinguishes the Christian from the unchristian life; and this is the working of the Spirit. Nothing on earth is so beautiful as the genuine Christian character. Such a character surpasses every other pattern, because it reflects the likeness of Him who descended out of heaven from God.

In unity of service.---Christians have 'one Lord,' towards whom they cherish one 'faith.' Our Lord is one, and His service is the same. He inspires in all the same feeling. Confessions differ, but one Christian faith is striving to send forth as a sound itself in all. The battle cries may vary, but the song of victory is one. The actual work of Christians is the same---to bring the world unto God. Their message is the same---'As ambassadors for Christ, we beseech you to be reconciled to God.' The same gratitude inspires them---'We love him, because he first loved us'; and their satisfaction and joy are this alone, that Christ 'shall see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied'; that Christ shall reign from sea to sea, and be enthroned in every heart.

And at last unity of worship.---'One God and Father of all, who is over all'---Sovereign Ruler, wise Director, tender Preserver; 'and through all'--revealing Himself in the course of Providence, not far from every one of us; and 'in all'---upholding all things by the word of His power, working out His own eternal counsel. We have not an unknown God; he that hath seen Christ hath seen the Father. We know Him to be righteous in all His works, holy in all His ways, a God of truth and without iniquity, with no respect of persons. He is the Father of spirits, rich in mercy to all who call upon Him. To worship is to perceive His excellence and to love Him for it; to be strengthened by communion with Him, calmed by submission to Him. We see but 'a portion of His ways,' and often err by reasoning from this as if we understood the whole. Here is the source of divisions---our attempt to explain all God's dealings; we are united when we come to hold communion with Himself.

In Christ, Timothy.


The Lord has given us the grace to reconcile the children to their Fathers

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