We are not only ambassadors who live in an embassy, we are temples of the Holy Spirit. Paul emphasizes this teaching to the believers in Corinth. He first uses it in his exhortation toward church unity. The believers, the members of the church, corporately are one temple in Christ because God's Spirit lives in them as a body of believers (1 Corinthians 3:16). Therefore anyone seeking to destroy the unity of the church, as some evidently were, is seeking to destroy the temple of the Holy Spirit. This is not a good thing.
Being united in Christ is an important matter to Paul. He constantly warns against those who would try to separate or cause division in the body. We are not meant to be solitary Christians, or, as some have said, Lone Ranger Christians. We are meant to be part of the body of Christ. The body is composed of a diverse group, yet we are to be one in belief, one in the Spirit, as Jesus and the Father are one (see John 17).
For Reflection: Have I done anything to sow dissension in the church? Gossip? Criticism?
Let us pray. Lord Jesus, I know that you want us as Christians to be one just as you and the Father are one. That's a tall order, but all things are possible for you. I repent of the times when I have caused or attempted to cause division. I repent of being critical of others in the church. I repent of spreading gossip or rumors.
When Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians (and his other letters), he was writing to a community of people. He envisioned a group of people who were working together and growing together into greater maturity in Christ. They were to do this by fulfilling the roles to which Christ had called them. Some were called to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers. The goal of all was to prepare the community for works of service among themselves until they should reach maturity. Their first goal was to build one another up into a cohesive unit who know the truth and live as the body of Christ. They were to become such a unit that they could not be swayed by outside influences.
If we picture a human body, we realize that all parts grow at a certain rate. In the younger years there is a great rate of growth. In the teen years things can be a little out of balance physically as the body adjusts to greater maturity. But what if the arms decide they are not waiting for the rest of the body to grow? They want to grow now! Disaster results.
Unfortunately, I've been in churches where people were growing individually but not corporately. Paul consistently warned against this. He was always pleading for people to get along and to grow in unity. I've also been a part of churches where it seemed the goal was not to build one another up, but to tear one another down. This does not help the body of Christ to grow in unity and maturity either.
For Reflection: Am I a source of unity or division in my church? Am I growing together with the body of Christ or doing my own thing? What am I doing to help others grow?
Let us pray. There are times, Jesus, when I have been guilty of doing my own thing. There are times when I have torn down rather than built up. Jesus, I want to fit better into your body. I want to be a better member of your body. I want to do my part - the part you have called me to do. I want to fulfill my destiny in you.
Some time back we looked at the beginning of Paul's letter to the Ephesians. In chapter 1 he tells us that the Father raised Jesus from the dead to sit at his right hand in heaven. In chapter 2 we learn that we were raised with him by being baptized into his death and resurrected with him so that we too sit in the heavens with Jesus and the Father. So we must learn to sit with him, learn who we are, and see things from his perspective before we begin to do anything else.
In chapter 4 Paul tells us we must learn how to walk on this earth in a way that is worthy of our calling and gives evidence of who we are. We must walk as people who are humble, gentle and patient. We must walk in unity with one another, at peace because we are one in the spirit and one in the body of Christ. We have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God who is Father of all.
For reflection: Does my daily walk reflect who I am in Christ?
Let us pray. Jesus, your walk was not easy even though you, above all people, knew who you were. I am not as confident in who I am, and not as confident in my walk. Please light my path more brightly.
Paul writes that we are all heirs, all members of one body, all sharers in the promise of Christ (Ephesians 2:6). Paul knew what it was like to attack other people because of their beliefs. He also knew what it was like to be attacked because of his beliefs. In fact he was in prison for his beliefs when he wrote his letter to the church in Ephesus. One might say that unity was a burning issue for him, a matter of great consequence. So he urged unity in his churches. He knew that it is the common witness of the church that will speak to the "rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms." And that common witness cannot be achieved if we in the church don't recognize that we are all members of one body, part of one another, one flesh, with Christ as the head. We cannot put up walls against one another or attack each other without damaging the common witness we are supposed to support.
Let us receive Paul's prayer on our behalf today. "For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge -- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work with us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." (Ephesians 3:14-21)
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.