Many people criticize Christians for saying one thing and doing another, and their observations are not unfounded.
In his book, The Christ of the Indian Road, Eli Stanley Jones writes that he once asked Mahatma Gandhi how missionaries could best convert India to Christianity. Ghandi responded by saying, “I would suggest first of all that all of you Christians, missionaries and all, begin to live more like Jesus Christ.”
How we live makes a more powerful statement than anything we say.
In our August 2021 meetings, the Council of Elders began a deep dive into our vision statement to more clearly understand the path to realizing God’s vision for His Church. The core of this statement is taken from Ephesians 4:16 and describes a level of unity that has challenged the Church over the years.
“The vision of the United Church of God is ‘A Church led by God’s Holy Spirit, joined and knit together by what every member supplies, with all doing their share and growing in love to fulfill God’s great purpose for humanity to bring many children to glory’ (Ephesians 4:16; Hebrews 2:10).”
The verses that precede Ephesians 4:16 describe the process by which this extraordinary accord is achieved. In verses 1-3, Paul outlines the attributes that found our unity of the Spirit. In verses 4-10 he explains the aspects that make us one in Spirit. In verses 11-12 he shows how Christ leads and assigns gifts to facilitate this process.
In verse 13, Paul describes the destination of this walk in the Spirit, “the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” Note here how he aligns the unity of the faith with perfection—or completion—maturing in the nature of Christ.
In verse 15, Paul condenses this journey from unity of the Spirit to unity of the faith, in the phrase “speaking the truth in love.” Yet the Greek here is even more revealing.
John Stott, in his work, The Message of Ephesians, writes, “‘Speaking the truth in love’ is not the best rendering of this expression, for the Greek verb makes no reference to our speech. Literally, it means, ‘truthing (Gk. alētheuontes) in love,’ and includes the notions of ‘maintaining,’ ‘living’ and ‘doing’ the truth.”
“Truthing” does not exclude our speech, but what we say must first be expressed in who we are and what we do: “Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
To “grow up in all things” into Christ, our lives must confess the truth, hold to it and walk in it.
Paul’s simple phrase “truth in love” is the means to fulfilling God’s vision for His Church. To grow up into Christ, to be “joined and knit together by what every joint supplies” (verse 16) we must all be striving to live every word of God in the very Spirit of God.