By Marni Montanez
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
What does it mean to be united in the Spirit? It is obvious this verse is referring to the Holy Spirit or Spirit of God. Unity does not mean we are carbon copies of one another. God created each of us as unique individuals with specific personal details. United in the Spirit is more about identifying with the Spirit in our own individual character and believing and trusting in this same Spirit which is God.
There is obvious instruction in this verse; "making every effort to maintain the unity" suggests it will take work and effort. We are all so different and it will not be an easy task. So many of us want to avoid friction and instead of facing issues with truth, we opt to avoid the problem and hinder communication. It seems easier to skip over those possible growing experiences than to go through the discomfort of confronting and restoring.
Unity is about confronting and restoration. It is not about hiding. When any two or more people come together there is a greater possibility for disagreement and we need to meet that disagreement with directness and honesty; otherwise the enemy will take that territory and cause strife. He is here to take away our peace.
The other part of this verse is about keeping our peace.
It is clear we are to invest in keeping peace. It means we are to use every opportunity to get along. In households or jobs or even out shopping we will have the chance to meet those who will challenge us. The implication is that there will be a struggle in maintaining unity with others; Of course there will be. We are all very different. Our ideas, beliefs and feelings about things can be so contrary to each other and somehow we have to meet that challenge with the desire for God's purposes.
Many of us hide behind our own protective barriers that were built on fear, pride and even anger.
One version of this verse says, "giving diligence to keep the unity; It's a fight sometimes.
I would venture to say that even Jesus may have struggled with certain personalities. Judas for instance, or Peter who had a very stubborn nature. Yet Jesus was able to be real and honest and keep His relationships strong and healthy.
Challenge: Step outside from behind your walls of fear, pride or anger and open up dialogue with others. Let God guide your conversation into a place of peace and restoration.
The purpose of this series is to encourage people to live as loving, compassionate, and peacemaking children of God: Jesus tells us to pray, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:10) God tells us through Micah (6:8), "He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God." And we know from Revelation 21:4 that there will be no more mourning, or crying, or pain, or death. Thus, Christian living requires us to set the standards of these conditions here on earth for our fellow human beings, and for the other animals, as a witness to the rest of the world. To do otherwise is not Christian.