Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. - Randel Lee

Ephesians 4:3 in the New International Version has always been a very curious passage to me. Normally we are given pretty much straight forward commands concerning how we should live our lives. Both as a person and within the church. “Thou shalt not commit murder” comes to mind. Pretty clear, huh? But in studying the church we find we are to “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit.” We are not commanded, “everyone has to have the same mindset, same beliefs, same understanding” of the church. It was in my youth I began to see the church back in the day.

I was raised in a home that took the scriptures as literal as one could take them in the world in which we lived. There were very few issues of gray. There was right and there was wrong. The gray areas were for those folks who didn’t really commit to following Christ and needed to “study more” as my elders would say. Back then I spoke up about some of the gray areas. Won’t mention those now as it would get me off topic. Needless to say, only through younger members of the same church to which I belonged were these topics even discussed, and many times in groups of 2 or 3 as we OBVIOUSLY weren’t going to bring them up to the church as a whole. We always felt we weren’t equipped with the knowledge we needed to make the case for such doubt and questioning. “Study more” always rang out even though when we did we became more convinced, or confused about the areas of gray existing in our church.

The one certainty in Ephesians 4:3 comes at the end of this scripture, “through the bond of peace.” As I grew and became convinced God did not want his church to be one of simply right or wrong or duty but based on love as Jesus shares with us throughout the New Testament. I DID become more vocal and was immediately dismissed and encouraged to again “study more.” Studying more only led to more conviction that a church, made up of humans, will NEVER, be a body without issues or concerns. I believe that is why the first part of this scripture instructs to do the best we can to make it so, but when there are issues we are basically commanded to address these through working with each other, knowing we are all different and maybe some of us live in that gray world of faith much of the time and would like to just discuss these matters to make us a stronger church.

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