What founds unity?

“Some controversy is crucial for the sake of life-giving truth. Running from it is a sign of cowardice. But enjoying it is usually a sign of pride. Some necessary tasks are sad, and even victory is not without tears – unless there is pride. The reason enjoying controversy is a sign of pride is that humility loves truth-based unity more than truth-based victory.” (John Piper, Contending for our All, p 17.)

Piper’s words are perceptive and a helpful reflection upon the apostle’s teaching about the body of Christ in Ephesians 4:

“I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. …And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood…”

It’s been a while since I read Piper’s book which is on the lives of Athanasius, John Owen and J. Grescham Machen. Part of a wonderful series by John Piper entitled ‘The Swans are not Silent’. This book certainly drew me to reflect upon the lessons to learn from controversy among members of the body of Christ in the church’s history.

The words of Paul in Ephesians 4 are quickly read but involve a lifetime to experience and to grow wise in. Perhaps the closing verse is a key to the path of wisdom:

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32).

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