No cookie cutter Christians here!
4-6You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. 7But that doesn't mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. (Eph. 4:4-7)
Paul takes a few sentences in this chapter to advise us of some very important "way-finding" in our Christian walk. He opens with the idea that none of us should be idle in our walk - not sitting around on our hands doing nothing for Christ, never growing, but becoming stagnant. He reminds us that our walk should not be one of "fits and starts", with little movements here and there, but a consistent and vital walk with Christ. In the passage above, he begins to reiterate that we have traveling companions in our journey - all going the same direction, traveling the same road. Having that in mind, let's explore a little about "walking together".
To begin with, we are traveling the same road - there is no "unique" path to God. If someone ever tells you that "their" revelation of God is better than someone else's and that it is the only path you can follow, beware! There may be a hint of issues ahead if you follow that pathway! We also are moving in the same direction - not pulling against each other, derisive in our attitude. There is more than a unity of action, but a unity of spirit that motivates that action. This is what Paul refers to as both the outward and inward commitment to staying together - united in our purpose, united in our focus, united in our progress.
The church is notorious for having little groups of people here and there, some moving one direction, others moving another. We limit our effectiveness as a congregation of believers if we allow this lack of unity to exist too long. God doesn't receive glory when we are all out of step with each other - doing our own thing oblivious to the call to reach others that God has placed in our lives.
The most telling part of this passage is Paul's announcement that we don't need to be "cookie cutter" Christians - all looking alike, speaking alike, etc. We have a uniqueness of character that makes us perfect for the position we have in the Body of Christ. It is those uniquenesses that God uses to reach out to others who "connect" with those spiritual attributes, natural talents, and life experiences that are similar to their own. It is what helps us to "bond" in the Body of Christ - becoming a cohesive group, full of power and purpose in Christ.
For many of us, we consider our "uniqueness" as something that is "odd" or perhaps not really "worthy" of much attention. In our Bible Study last evening, one woman shared how really awesome it is having the account of Christ's life on earth recorded for us from four different vantage points. What Matthew, Luke, John, and Mark give us is a similar account, but each with specific observations that are unique to the "vantage point" of that disciple. We each have a different "vantage point" that we viewed life from prior to coming to Christ - that vantage point presents us with tremendous ministry opportunities now that we are on the pathway with other disciples in Christ.
So, as we journey together, we must learn to appreciate the various differences of those on this journey with us. We must not try to conform to some "mold" that another may try to impose upon us - we are free to be exactly who God has made us to be in his tremendous grace and love. I know that there is an old adage, "Variety is the spice of life." In the church, variety is the very thing that accomplishes the ministry God intends through the local assembled Body of Christ - men and women of every background, reaching other men and women of similar backgrounds. So, let your "uniqueness" shine today!