When I have wronged someone, or they have wronged me, my tendency is first to withdraw. Now, I know this is not true for everyone, but many of us prefer to avoid not only confrontation but especially confession, truth-telling, accusation and restoration. It’s difficult work, and not enjoyable.
We often think we know how it will play out – so we just avoid it. We tell ourselves an entire story in our head, play out a mock conversation and end it, in our heads, in terrible ways. Then we convince ourselves that worst-case scenario is how it will play out.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul confronts this stuff head-on. He gives what sounds at face value like an admonition, a directive:
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:3
I don’t like hearing this. It not only flies in the face of my natural tendency – to bail out – but requires effort – work – to boot! Who wants that? Yet this turns out not to be an empty, legalistic admonition but rather part of a larger message from Paul that is an invitation and a hopeful truth: we’re already united. We are held together by Jesus. He’s the head and in Him there is already a bond of peace. It is a gift for us to accept, not another thing to add to our to-do list.
There is no us and them. There is only us, together in Him. We need each other – in-person, up-close, intimate, real. It may feel hard in this time, but it’s no less necessary. So we put in the effort and we trust that the God who calls us into this kind of community will make a way for it to happen.
Lord, help us see the reality you’ve already put in place, and to live in that truth – unity through the bond of peace. Amen.
Grace and Peace,