This is the fifth in a series of daily posts during this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (January 18-25, 2011) offering brief reflections on the biblical basis for the quest for Christian unity. These reflections are drawn from the pages of Ecumenism Means You, Too: Ordinary Christians and the Quest for Christian Unity (Cascade Books, 2010).
The overarching theme of the New Testament letter to the Ephesians is the unity of the church as the body of Christ. It is part of God’s plan to unify all things—“a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in [Christ], things in heaven and things on earth” (1:10). As the body of Christ, the church is “the fullness of him who fills all in all” (1:22-23). The church is “one new humanity” that transcends Jew and Gentile—the ethnic divisions of humanity that mattered to the readers of this letter—in which both groups are reconciled “to God in one body through the cross” (2:15-16). Christian unity is no easy unity, for the church is a community in which we must “speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another” and in which we may need to “be angry” at one another while avoiding letting that anger turn into sin (4:25-26). Being members of the one body of Christ means to “be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ” (5:21-33).
-- from chapter 3, “One Life with Each Other: The Theology of Ecumenism”
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