On September 17, 1787, 39 delegates to the Federal Convention in Philadelphia signed their name to the bottom of a document that began as follows:
“WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
With those words a nation was born. Thirteen independent states became a unified, democratic republic founded on common values and devoted to a common mission. Justice. Domestic tranquility. Common defense. Such were the principles that brought them together and kept them together. These are the goals of any founding document, really. If a group of people are going to come together and stay together, they must define what unites them and pursue what unites them. Enduring unity of any sort requires a common foundation and a common mission.
The church is no exception.
The book of Ephesians, in so many ways, is for the church what the constitution is for our country. It defines our foundation and outlines our mission. In Ephesians 1:2, Paul writes, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Peace through grace is the core of the gospel. God reconciles us to himself by uniting us with Christ and God reconciles to one another by uniting us to Christ.
That means we don’t meet together as a church to create unity. We gather as a church to display the unity God has already created. The unity God creates is the foundation of the church, and the unity we display is the mission of the church. Those two principles, unity created and unity displayed, capture the the heart of the book of Ephesians. It’s also why Peter O’Brien describes the church as “a pilot project and pattern of a reconciled universe.”
I’m really excited to spend the next seven months preaching through Ephesians. But it’s not just something we’re going to do on Sunday mornings. It’s also something we’re going to do in Community Groups.
Community Groups are the primary context for discipleship at Kingsway, a small group of ideally 8-10 adults who are helping one another learn to follow Jesus in every area of life. During our Ephesians series, all our Community Groups are discussing a short book called Side by Side. Ed Welch wrote Side by Side to teach us how to ask for help from others and offer help to others in displaying our unity in Christ. If you’re not part of a Community Group, this is a great time to get involved. Click here to visit our Community Group page to find one near you.
Unity in Christ is the foundation of the church and the mission of the church. May God burn that reality into our hearts and lives over the next few months.