ONE What? #2 - ONE faith or TWO? Paul's Take.
In the words of Paul, there is ONE body, and ONE Spirit, even as you are called in ONE hope of your calling; ONE Lord, ONE faith, ONE baptism, ONE God & Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
An incredible mouthful.
Paul's letter is full of sound doctrine specifically about WHO we are now that we are in Christ and what that looks like practically - for the Jews who follow Jesus (Yeshua, to them) and now, for even the Gentiles who have come to know Yeshua as Messiah too.
There are a few huge deals going on: 1. it's a huge deal to tell other Jews that the Messiah has indeed come in the flesh. 2. it's a huge deal that this same Messiah came not only to fulfill Jewish prophesy but to fill Gentiles with the Spirit of God and integrate them fully into the family of God - it's revolutionary.
It's no wonder that Paul uses the word "one" often and, in this portion from chapter 4, as almost every other word.
It was a needed word for this particular time in history.
A pragmatic word for two people groups that saw themselves as either insiders or outsiders when it came to faith, and a uniquely theological term - especially for Jews who were taught since birth that there is only ONE God.
They would have known this basic tenet of their own faith: monotheism - ONE God. Not one of many gods, the only. All others: false. All others: lies. There is no other. Not even a competitor.
It's interesting to see all the other ONE's that Paul claims before ending with ONE God - a statement with which they would most assuredly agree.
The Jews knew it.
The Gentiles might not have known. Roman leaders claimed to actually be gods and the Greeks had a plethora of gods.
This difference is important to know.
In a "Greek" world (much like ours today) that says almost any and everything can be a god, the Truth of our story is that from the beginning, we have known that God is the King of the universe and there simply is no other.
Why do we need to know this? Because functionally, we all struggle. I can say all day long that I worship God - but where I put my worth/trust/time/energy is, functionally, everywhere else.
Worth-ship is another way of saying worship. There's good news and bad news here.
The bad news: everything that I put my worth and trust in outside of Jesus will function practically as a "god" to me no matter what my theology is.
The good news: there is no God but the ONE true God, so whatever is floating our "functional savior" boats is easy to poke holes in - it's a lie.
Jesus is the ONE who, ever so gently and in the most freeing manner, pokes holes in the boat that was sailing us nowhere - all the while remaining present as the one who is with us, protecting us, calming the storm and leading us to safe harbor. The ONE providing for us the most trustworthy of life vessels: His ONE body, ONE Spirit, ONE hope, ONE faith, ONE baptism and ONE Father.
Prayer provides a safe space for the love of God to shape our lives as we practically experience ONEness - connectedness - to Him. In that same safe space, lies dissipate and loose their hold. “Functional gods” turn from entities to vague memories and Paul’s words take shape BOTH theoretically and realistically. I have to believe that’s the point. In a day when many of us are tired of only theology, and others question the practicality of faith traditions and Scripture - Paul calls us to ONE thing: all of it. Jesus enables it. Apart from Him it’s messy and complicated. With him (and “with Him” is a great way to define PRAYER) we find our Way.
Next week we'll begin at the beginning: the ONE God of creation.