Maintaining the Unity of the Spirit Requires Dealing With Abusers
Eph 4:1-6 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, (2) with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, (3) eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (4) There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call– (5) one Lord, one faith, one baptism, (6) one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Church unity. We hear a lot about it, but we really don’t see or experience it very often at all. Most times the “unity” in a local church is just role play. But under the surface, whoa! Constant, low-level friction. Why?
I suggest that one chief reason for this sorry situation is that most Christians and church leaders have a warped view of biblical, genuine, spiritual unity. It often is better described as “uniformity,” in which environment the pressure is on everyone to get in line. In that kind of supposed “community,” everyone is presumed to belong, and all efforts must be diligently enforced to be sure that everyone stays in the community. Everyone. Tolerance is not only the word of the day in our secular culture. It is the attitude (enforced) in our churches. To differ is to be intolerant, and to suggest that someone really does not belong….well, that is the quickest way to be censured or tossed out.
Being “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” requires, I maintain, removing wicked, unrepentant people from the community. What’s that? I shall repeat: biblical zeal to maintain Christian unity requires the expulsion of people who have demonstrated that they are not in Christ, and thus, with whom, we have no unity. THIS is walking in a manner worthy of our calling.
“…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, (3) eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (4) There is one body and one Spirit.”
Think about it. How can we maintain what does not exist? We are to patiently “bear with one another.” Who is the “one another”? It is believers. Those who are in Christ. Those who have one Lord, one faith, one baptism. Those who have the Spirit. That spiritual unity exists in and between all Christians. But it does not exist with the wicked.
And therefore anyone who comes along preaching to us that we are to eagerly and patiently maintain unity with an abuser (or any other so-called brother who habitually walks in evil) is preaching some kind of “unity” that the Bible knows nothing about. Consider. Isn’t it true? Abusers are allowed to remain in our churches in the name of “unity.” But there is no unity to maintain. Such a man is not our brother. In fact, many Scriptures tell us to separate ourselves from such people. To put them out of our churches (1 Cor 5). Not to even eat with them.
And when we wake up and do this, guess what? We are actually maintaining the unity between genuine believers that honors Christ, the Head of the body.