Central Florida is oppressively humid, constantly sunny, and naturally swampy. Humanity rightly shouldn’t live here, yet millions of us do, a feat achieved by burying swampland under countless acres of sandy soil. So lawn maintenance here is a never-ending battle against invasive weeds and crabgrass, scorched grasses, and a gazillion pests.
Ephesians 4:3 indicates that the level of devotion required to keep a decent lawn in Florida is the same as that of preserving Christian unity.
The word translated keep is the Greek word tereo. Part of the Greek Lexicon for tereo (found at Biblestudytools.com) includes this comment: “metaphorically to keep one in the state in which he is.”
Many remarkable realities come to us, immediately, as a result of Jesus’s redemption: we’re eternally forgiven, fully accepted, justified as righteous before God, etc. Among these is the truth that people “who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” He has “made us both one” (Ephesians 2:13-14).
Part of the “state in which we are” is united in a familial bond to one another. This unity inherent to our new identity obliterates the isolation, hostility, division, and all other relational brokenness ingrained in our old, sinful nature.
But, just as we are called to grow in conformity to our new nature by becoming more righteous, self-controlled, kind, and more, we are called to maintain and preserve our unity. We possess it already; we’re commissioned to keep it. This is a facet of sanctification.
Maintaining unity requires care: pulling weeds of bitterness, fertilizing with compassion and loving service, praying fervently to protect from the pests of rivalry, prejudice, and unresolved conflict. In a way, the many New Testament passages instructing us how to live in light of Christ’s redemption can be seen as ways to preserve the unity he purchased for his people.
Father, thank you for reconciling me first to you, then to all other followers of Jesus, through his death and resurrection. Forgive me for the hostility and disunity I live in toward other believers, and show me how to grow and maintain the unity in Christ that you’ve established. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Throughout This Day: Invite the Spirit to show you some other ways the unity of the Spirit between Christians can be kept. Which of these can you act on? Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-13:13 and Colossians 3:9-17 for insights.
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