Church Unity And Who We Are
Connected to that there's another engine that feeds our eager attempts to maintain our unity; there's the vision of who we are. Paul makes the astonishing claim that that for which God exercised his power in Jesus Christ he pursues through us the church or body of Christ (1:19). And in 3:10 he says that the church is a witness to all the powers in the universe that God has summed up and reconciled all things in heaven and on earth in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:10, 21-23 with Colossians 1:20). To say we have some inner superiority over the rest of creation would be silly since our place in all this is sheer gift and privilege (1:3-14). Still, here we are, God's community of witness to the universe and all in it! And we're told that that role as witness will never end (3:20-21).
Witness to the whole creation? Do we hold out hope only for ourselves? Hardly! Surely we hold out hope for the entire human race. And is that all (as if it were not enough)? Isn't there a groaning creation in Romans 8:18-22 that keeps a longing eye on us, waiting for the day of our complete glorification? Looking to us because we have the Holy Spirit as pledge that such groaning is not in vain? Aren't the groans coming to us from every quarter? There are the three-legged cats with piteous meows, collapsed old bridges with their ribs jammed into dried up riverbeds, creaking and protesting in the wind. There are the derelict buildings with windows that are really eyes without souls where ghostly winds enter and moan up and down in the deserted halls and then there are the tired old dogs like "Jordan" with stomach tumours and deep eyes full of questions. Do we confront all that and speak hope to the emptiness, weariness and longing? Is that who we are? If so, no wonder he says we should be eager to maintain church unity because the reconciled Community is a promise of a larger restoration and reconciliation.
And are there beings in those "heavenly places" who have sinned against God to whom forgiveness is possible through an atonement wrought by God here on this little out-of-the-way planet? If there are and if it's possible then perhaps our witness that the holy love of God met sin even beyond the stars and made atonement for it is even grander than we know it is. Does it matter to other worlds that we protect and nurture the unity of the Spirit that has been created by the Father through his Son? Is that possible? Do the scriptures allow for that? If so, no wonder our gallant God so passionately put his shoulder to the foundation of sin's wall. If so, shouldn't we be ashamed not to join him in it? Worse, should we be ten thousand times ten thousand times ashamed if we got in his way?