“3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all”Ephesians 4:3-6 (NIV)
I was doing my morning devotional a day ago and came across a powerful story about what it means to live in Christian Unity. In our culture, we need a unity which runs much deeper than the surface level unities we find. Unity around a sports team, an event, or even an idea seems so fleeting and temporary. Surely there is a higher calling. In considering unity, I came across this story. Isam E. Ballenger, author and Biblical scholar, tells the story of Max Josef Metzger. He writes:
“Max Josef Metzger, a Catholic priest, was known affectionately as “Bruder Paulus” (brother Paul). In Germany he drew suspicion from the national socialist state by his humanitarian efforts, his pacifism, and his attempts to unite various Christian confessions. More important to him than the government’s displeasure were the consequences he drew from his commitment to the seven-fold unity-one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. Brother Paul continued his emphasis upon unity, not a unity based on nationalism and racism, but a unity of participation in the Spirit of God. On October 14, 1943 he was condemned to death, an execution carried out in April 1944. As he stood before the court that would condemn him, he began his speech of defense saying: ‘Christ established only one church. . . . One, one-this we are! There is no other!’ It was not Metzger’s doctrine that upset his enemies, but his participation in the one Spirit of love and peace and his attempts to bring others into such participation.”
I was captured by that last line. It was not Metzger’s doctrine which upset people, but his participation in the one Spirit of love and peace and inviting others into such participation. Ideology often divides; and yet, under the cross of Christ, what unites us is the participation in love. It is worth fighting for and living into because it speaks of a new world created in the Resurrected Christ. Though difference exists, it does not have to divide. In fact, in Scripture difference seems to be healthy. For instance, Paul the Apostle says God designed the body with a variety of gifts. We weren’t meant to be the same person. However, we have been given a common goal to love the world back to life. What does it look like for you to participate in the One Spirit of love and peace? How might you invite others into that space?
Rev. Nathan Kilbourne