December 7, 2016
Read: Ephesians 4:1–6
Bible in a Year: Daniel 5–7; 2 John
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.—Ephesians 4:3
Seeing three large predatory animals cuddle and play together is extremely unusual. Yet this is precisely what happens daily in an animal sanctuary in Georgia. In 2001, after months of neglect and abuse, a lion, a Bengal tiger, and a black bear were rescued by Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary. “We could have separated them,” said the assistant director. “But since they came as a kind of family, we decided to keep them together.” The trio had found comfort in each other during their time of mistreatment, and, despite their differences, they live peacefully together.
Unity is a beautiful thing. But the unity Paul wrote about in his letter to the believers in Ephesus is unique. Paul encouraged the Ephesians to live up to their calling as members of one body in Christ (Eph. 4:4-5). By the power of the Holy Spirit they would be able to live in unity as they developed humility, gentleness, and patience. These attitudes also allow us to lovingly bear “with one another in love” through the common ground we have in Christ Jesus (4:2).
Despite our differences, as members of the family of God we have been reconciled to Him through the death of our Savior and reconciled to each other through the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. —Marvin Williams
Heavenly Father, help me to grow in gentleness and patience toward others. Show me how to love others, even when we may have differences.
We keep unity by being united in the Spirit.
INSIGHT: The ancient city of Ephesus was large and diverse. In the first century, many philosophies and religions in Ephesus competed with Christianity, and this diversity presented some unique theological and ethical challenges to the Christ-followers who lived there. In his letter to the believers in Ephesus, the apostle Paul wanted to be sure they understood that peace with God could only be achieved through faith in Christ’s death and resurrection. Other ideas might sound appealing, but salvation rests exclusively in Christ. Saving faith is not about converting to a religion; it is about receiving and then living out a new life from Christ that reflects God’s love, mercy, and wisdom. Dennis Moles
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