I’m writing this from my home, away from the crowd. The streets are quiet. We are hearing of the ‘State of Emergency’ starting to affect many people. With all the daily changes affecting us and our societies, we might hear of and see a few negative behaviours which tear society down; things like selfishness, hoarding, fear.
But we also see the kindness of people who are building up others; changing behaviours to prevent the spread of infection, helping or checking in on neighbours, being generous and thoughtful, kind and loving. Examples include a roof-top fitness trainer instructing people from separated balconies, the singing of the Italian National Anthem from balconies and windows of Italian homes, or the “caremongering” Facebook groups popping up across Canada.
Even as we postpone and cancel public events, we celebrate a common purpose with Jesus and one another that affirms, whether in the same room or in self-isolation, we are “Together on the Way” as a Church desiring to live life like Jesus, for Jesus, and in the power of His Spirit.
As followers of Jesus, and as members of the “Evangelical Missionary Church of Canada”, we have a recognition that our story – yours and mine, is not merely a human story, but also a Divine one. We don’t need to create a false sense of what unites us, but we get to keep and cherish that which God provides for our unity in his Great Commission call. Together with the Global Body of Christ, we live for our King, welcoming the gifts of all the parts of the Body, the Global Church.
In Ephesians 4, the Apostle’s interest is for Jewish and non-Jewish followers of Jesus to honour a unity that is God-given, a faith that is shared, a way of life that is committed to one cause – to follow Jesus together in the world, from very different cultural vantage points, and from very different backgrounds. Right now, we see a different kind of “difference”, that of our opinion and faith responses in light of Covid-19. But underneath those differences is our common bond as members of one household.
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
Ephesians 4:3 (NIVUK)
While giving space for one another’s differences, we make a declaration that there is One Lord, One faith, one new birth (see Ephesians 4:4-6).
We might also lay down pride, ethnocentrism, xenophobia, or selfishness. Rather than only seeing the work of the Church through the ways we’ve grown accustomed to experiencing them, we focus instead on our common calling, our common cause. When Ephesians 4 gets to verse 16, we read further about our unity in the whole Body of Christ as held together mysteriously by the Spirit, connecting all the parts:
“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
Ephesians 4:16 NIVUK
We not only have a God-given unity, but we are held together, with all the parts of the Body, by the Spirit of God as well. This enables the growing and building up of one whole Church as we operate and work from our common identity and purpose in Jesus’ Community. This keeps us humble, welcoming the gifts of every member as contributing to the whole. It keeps us mindful to bless and encourage each other in doing our part.
Jesus prayed that we might be one.
“…that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
John 17:21 NIVUK
Even though we experience separation from others right now, we embrace being Together on the Way. We have a story to live and a song to sing. Let the Way of Jesus be experienced in your public sphere today. We uphold Jesus’ cause in our lives, with gratitude, with allegiance to keep Jesus in the center of our view, allowing His unity of purpose to be lived out in our homes, our networks, our neighbourhoods, and our world.