The Holy Spirit and the Bond of Peace
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“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3
The time and place was Germany after WWII. The church was divided and the hurt ran deep. In the year’s prior, Hitler had commanded all religious groups within the country to unite. It wasn’t a unity of the Spirit, however, that brought them together. Rather, the unity was forced upon them so Hitler could better control the churches.
Among the Brethren Assemblies in Germany, there were some who went along with Hitler’s plan- but another half refused. The result of refusing to comply meant tremendous hardship and nearly every family in this group faced the loss of family members in concentration camps. Those who complied had a much easier time.
After the war, there was, understandably, a lot of bitterness between the two groups. The church’s leaders decided to do something about the problem and they planned a retreat where they would meet together. They spent the time praying and seeking God’s will. They knew what God had called them to do. As they prayed and confessed what was in their hearts, they said that the Holy Spirit came among them and created a beautiful spirit of unity. Love replaced the hatred in a supernatural way.
Francis Schaeffer, the American theologian, later retold this story as an example of what happens when Christ’s followers invite the Holy Spirit to come and to change hearts and minds.
The Holy Spirit unifies.
The bond of peace that is called for in the church is made possible through the work of the Holy Spirit.
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” 2 Cor. 13:14
This blessing that Paul gives attributes different attributes to each member of the trinity. Notice how he credits the Holy Spirit with bringing fellowship among the believers.
Christ’s followers have already been united in the sense that we are all one, in him. But that unity, in another sense, is something that needs to be maintained. Ephesians 4:3 instructs us to “make every effort to keep the unity”.
How do we do that?
It is the Holy Spirit that produces love in our hearts. We seek him and we invite him to do his work through prayer and through obedience to his leading.
Romans 5:5 (ESV) says,
“..and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
We can try and enforce unity through outside means but it won’t really mean anything if it doesn’t come from the heart. One of my favorite quotes that sums up this idea is,
“One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organization do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always” –A.W. Tozer
The Holy Spirit, giver of life, brings his sweet presence and changes everything. In fact, it’s strong evidence that the Holy Spirit is working in a church community when the believers show love for one another, in unity. A ministry does not work without the power of the Holy Spirit. We need his presence.
There are examples throughout the Bible that show that the Holy Spirit will leave certain situations and withdraw his blessings when there is disobedience. The Holy Spirit does not force his way into our lives. We have free will. Remember, too, that though we are instructed to “make every effort” to live in peace with others, there is no promise that other people will respond in kind. We can ask the Holy Spirit to change our own hearts- but other people have the same free will that we do.
It’s important that we depend on the Holy Spirit, recognizing his presence and blessing in our lives, inviting him in and receiving him in faith. When we do this, we will experience a power that beyond ourselves: the power of the Holy Spirit.
Holy Spirit, you are welcome here, please help us to experience that bond of peace with our brothers and sister in Christ, the bond that comes through the unity of your Spirit. –In Jesus name we pray, Amen
Join us as we take a clear and practical look at some of the most basic and essential tenets of the Christian life – the doctrines of the faith.
Each week, we will highlight and explain a core doctrine. Then, we will pose the question, “Why does this matter to you and me?”
You can catch all of this year’s “Delight in Doctrine” posts by clicking HERE.
For the purposes of the study, our main texts will be first, the Bible, of course, and Wayne Grudem’s classic, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine.
It is our prayer that by the end of 2017, we will all find more delight in understanding what we believe and why we believe it.
“…And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27 (ESV)
Linking up with Deb Wolf at #faithandfriends (Friday), #GraceandTruth (Friday), Holly Gerth at #coffeeforyourheart (Wednesday), Susanne Eller at #livefreeThursday, Carmen at #salt&light (Thursday), Kelly at #RaRalinkup (Tuesday), and Lori at #Momentsofhope (Monday)