United in Action, Attitude,
Aim & Agreement
Warren E. Berkley
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the
calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with
longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the
unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit,
just as you were called in 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 you all.”
The above passage can be studied in terms of four essential directions of
unity. Christians need to be united in action, united in attitude, united in
aim and united in agreement. In the local church, if every member is united
in these things, there will be a bond of peace that pleases God and that
advances the work in the right direction.
First, united in action: “…walk worthy of the calling with which you were
called.” When the gospel is preached, God is calling sinners out of sin.
When a sinner hears the gospel, believes in Christ, repents and obeys the
Lord in baptism, the call of the gospel is being answered. If I have
answered that call, how should I live after baptism? How should I act? I
should walk worthy of the calling with which I was called. I must live as
one should live, who has obeyed the gospel. If I live that way, and you live
that way – – and all the other members of the local church live this way,
the result will be unity. We are united in action. We are acting according
to the teachings of the Word of God. “Only let your conduct be worthy of the
gospel of Christ…,” (Phil. 1:27).
Second, united in attitude. “… [W]ith all lowliness and gentleness,
with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.” This all falls in the
category we commonly name “attitude.” Attitude is about your state of mind;
your mental and emotional position – and the expression of that in your
daily dealings with events, with people and with God. Christians ought to
have the kind of attitude that’s described in Ephesians 4:2. Lowly means –
you do not esteem yourself above others; you maintain a mature and honest
view of yourself (see Rom. 12:3; Phil. 2:3). Gentleness is a mature
calmness; a self-controlled manner in dealing with things, people and
events. Jesus was gentle (Matt. 11:29). Paul was Gentle (1 Thess. 2:7).
Preachers are commanded to be gentle (2 Tim. 2:24-26). Longsuffering has to
do with patience under provocation; the opposite of being quick-tempered or
impulsive in your negative reactions to others (see this in God, 2 Pet.
3:9). If you maintain a longsuffering disposition, you will bear “with one
another in love,” thus letting your patience find a practical place in your
dealings with people. Think about the great potential when every member of a
church develops and grow in these attitudes (see also, Phil. 2:1-5).
Third, united in aim: “…[E]ndeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the
bond of peace.” Unity in the local church is something that requires effort.
You have to see the value of it, understand that God desires it, want it
yourself and do the personal work to advance it. From time to time through
50 years of preaching, I have observed people in local churches who simply
did not care about the welfare, needs or unity of the congregation. They
would divide the church over their feelings, opinions, preferences or false
doctrines; or their favoritism for a man or group. Like those in Corinth,
they place human wisdom above divine. We must shun that, take the resources
provided by the Holy Spirit in the Word and do the work, with each
individual devoted to the unity of the Spirit (see also, Eph. 4:16).
Fourth, united in agreement. In every local church there are different
personality types; different levels of growth; a variety of opinions in
matters of individual liberty; various economic levels and very different
backgrounds (culture, environment, experience). Unity does not mean we must
all become exactly alike! Our variety gives richness to our work and our
existence. But, as Christians, there are certain basic, fundamental things
we share; we agree on. These things tie us together in the activity of our
faith toward God: “there is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called
in 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 you all.” However
different we may be in a variety of secular ways, there is a spiritual and
practical unity we enjoy – based on this common bond.
If every member of the local church will learn this passage, accept it as
written in the context and put it into practice – the local church becomes a
beautiful place of peace, where God’s work can be done in God’s way.