Jan 01

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Many times we start talking about doing something and before we know it, we have talked so much and the subject has become so large, we have long left the original subject and have no idea what we started talking about. As a small congregation, we may not be able to do large things, but we can do a number of smaller things. We, the elders, have ideas on how to make the outside of the building look better and it sure needs to look better. At the same time, being small in number means we are short on money; therefore, our plans are going to be small. It may be one thing at a time; a little here and a little there. If we plan well, each little thing will fit into the larger plan.
The same thing is true of the inside of the building. We have long talked about lowering the ceiling; as this will cut down on the cost of heating and cooling the building. Of course, it will also make the inside of the building look a lot better. With the lowing of the ceiling, we would also be able to put up the overhead project, or, so it will hang from the ceiling and will allow us to move the podium back to the middle of the pulpit area. Yes, we will have to raise the screen so it can be seen over the head of the speaker. This will require planning, so the ceiling, the screen, and the projector all work together. Now, if it does not work one way, we will be adjustable and do it another way. I can see it all working together in my head, but you know things do not always work the way you “see them in your head!”
Here is a good place to take a look at the words of Paul to the church of Ephesus: “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). Generally, when we see the word “Spirit” and it has a capital “S,” our first thought is the writer is referring to the Holy Spirit; even though the word “Holy” is not in the next! We need to take a second look at this way of thinking! First, when the word “Holy” is not used with the word “Spirit,” this should get our attention. It should cause us to study the text more closely. Second, we should all know by now that the Greek was written in all capital letters; therefore, it was not the inspired writer who determined to put a capital “S” on the word “Spirit” in the text. Third, this means it is the translator, or the publisher, who determined to put the capital “S” on the word “Spirit” in the text. So, what does all this mean to us as we read and study the text before us? It means we must be open to the idea that the word “Spirit” may not refer to the Holy Spirit at all. However, if not to the “Holy Spirit,” then, to what does the word “Spirit” refer?
The context gives itself well to the idea that the word “Spirit” refers to “the disposition of the human spirit;” therefore, Albert Barnes wrote: “This does not refer to the fact that there is one Holy Spirit; but it refers to unity of affection, of confidence, of love. It means that Christians should be united in temper and affection, and not be split up into factions and parties.” Also Adam Clarke wrote: “ By the unity of the Spirit we are to understand, not only a spiritual unity, but also a unity of sentiments, desires, and affections, such as is worthy of and springs from the Spirit of God.” True, these are only the opinions of men, but what we write is always the opinion of man; it is just our opinion! To help us here, Clarke wrote this: “There can be no doubt that the Church at Ephesus was composed partly of converted Jews, as well as Gentiles. Now, from the different manner in which they had been brought up, there might be frequent causes of altercations.” Within most congregations today, there are brethren from different parts of the country, brethren raised in different cultures, then, we are just naturally different! The word “endeavouring” needs to have our attention here, as it means, “to exert one’s self!” It takes personal effort to reach what Paul is challenging the church to have and he adds: “in the bond of peace.” The Greek word (sundesmos) translated “bond” is used for “of ligaments by which the members of the human body are united together.” Truly this expresses the “bond of peace” of which Paul is writing! It also shows what each member must bring to this “unity of the spirit!”
Each member will have ideas of what we need to do, of how we need to do it; but in the end, only certain things can be done, and they can only be done in one way. So, how do we get to this one thing done and this one way? It is when each one of us gives ourselves to: “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

— Frank R. Williams

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