As Paul writes to strengthen the unity of the church at Ephesus, he stresses three things in this chapter that are crucial to maintaining the “oneness” he explained in the previous chapter. The first issue involves the Leader of the church — not the leaders named in 4:11 (pastors, teachers, etc.), but THE Leader named in 2:20, the Lord Jesus. He is the one we should follow, and His perfect example of love and sacrifice is what every member of the church should strive to imitate. If every member follows the same Leader, we all go the same direction — that is unity. (Note: the human leaders Christ has placed in the church are to be followed, but only to the extent that they are following Christ. So in order to be effective leaders, the pastors must be the leading followers in the congregation. Pastors may exert their God-given authority only to the extent that they submit to the authority of Christ themselves.)
As every member follows Christ, the church presents to the world a united testimony of the transforming power of the gospel. When we turned from sin and turned to Christ, we stepped out of sin’s darkness and into salvation’s light: “At one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light” (v.8). Walking in the light means disassociating ourselves from “unfruitful works of darkness”, those things that characterized our lives before we were saved, like immorality, impurity, and greed (v.3-4, 11). Instead, we follow Christ into things that are “good and right and true” (v.9).
The second thing Paul mentions that is crucial to our unity involves the source of power for the church: every member being filled with the Holy Spirit (v.18). This is essential. The only other option is to rely on the power of the flesh, which is ineffective and inadequate for doing God’s work. God has given the church a supernatural mission, and it cannot be accomplished by natural means. We need the supernatural power that fills our lives when we surrender control to the Holy Spirit. Again, this is not optional, it is mission-critical. (Note: you may want to stop now and ask the Lord for a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit. Confess any known sin in your life; as has often been said, the Spirit won’t fill a dirty vessel. Surrender your will to the will of Christ. Admit your dependence on Him. Now ask the Holy Spirit to fill you, control you, empower you.)
The third thing Paul mentions that is crucial to our unity as a church involves the unity within the home. The church really is a family of families. When marriages are united in Christ families are strong — and strong families build strong churches. In fact, Paul spoke of a healthy marriage as being a microcosm of a healthy church. Just as Christ cherishes and cares for His church with sacrificial love, husbands unselfishly love and care for their wives. And just as the church willingly submits to the loving leadership of Christ, wives respond to the servant-leadership of their husbands by following their lead. This kind of attitude (possible only when both husband and wife are filled with the Holy Spirit) produces an uncommon oneness in a marriage (v.31).
That kind of unity is possible in a church when every member is filled with the Holy Spirit, following Jesus, and serving the other members in love. Sounds amazing, right? Let’s make it happen!