The Fatherhood of God: The Foundation of Unity.
“One God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.”
As we look about us, we see our society descending into the abyss of conflict and division. At every turn, there seems to be a fracture separating people from one another. Our country is divided along political lines, cultural expressions, moral standards and racial tensions. The tragedy is that in the midst of these divisions people have developed a “us versus them” mindset. If you are not for us, then you are against us. How can we find a basis of unity when there is no longer any dialogue or mutual respect?
While this is not surprising in the world, for we live in a world in which sin has distorted our thinking and attitudes, the tragedy is that it can creep into the church. Instead of being shaped by a biblical worldview, we are shaped and influenced by our culture, politics and society. When these become the focus, we quickly become divided within the church. But in all this we miss the most important question and that is, “In an age of division and conflict how can we find a basis of unity within the church?”
This is the question that Paul is dealing with in Ephesians 4. Paul was no stranger to conflict. In his dealings with the various churches, he had dealt with congregations that were divided over a number of different issues. Paul understood the threat of division that can undermine the effectiveness of the church. As a result, he appeals to church at Ephesus “to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (3). However, Paul is not promoting a unity that comes at the cost of the truths of the Gospel, rather it is one that is grounded in the gospel message and in sound doctrine (vs 5). But the climax of his call for unity is reached in verse 6; we are finding our unity in one God and one Father of all. This not only refers to the reality that God is the Father of the Christians, but to all of creation (see also 3:14-15). God is the one who created all things and is the one through whom all things exist, and he stands transcendent over all things. It is the recognition that he rules over all creation and that he governs the universe to fulfill his purpose that serves to unite us.
In the divided and conflicted world, the church displays God’s rule by demonstrating unity. When we become divided by our differences, we are to remember what unites us. The world is divided and remains so because it has no higher foundation to unite them. But because we have God as our Father, we have a deeper truth to unite us together in spite of our differences. The differences we have in regard to present circumstances pale in comparison to the unity we have in God as our heavenly Father.
The challenge we face in our age of differences is to keep our focus upon God as our Father and remember our family heritage. When we allow our different opinions to divide us, we have lost perspective of God’s position in our life. When our focus is upon God and the centrality of the Gospel, then our differences become insignificant. The foundation for finding common ground upon which to build unity begins with the acceptance of God’s preeminent position in the universe and the foundation of his Gospel. When confronting the challenges of our differences, remember that our common faith in Christ is greater and it is this unity centered on the gospel of Christ and the Fatherhood of God that we must display to a divided world looking for a basis for unity.