One

One: The Least Lonely Number

There is one body and one Spirit–just as you were called to one hope when you were called. Ephesians 4:4

In 1969, a relatively unknown rock band released its first album. The title song was “One.” The lyrics declared, “One is the loneliest number.” The song became a Top 40 hit and its success skyrocketed the band, Three Dog Night, to stardom.

In the Bible, however, one is actually the least lonely number. From its first appearance in Genesis 2:24, “and they will become one flesh,” to Jesus’ declaration in John 10:30, “I and my father are one,” the number one in the Bible is all about unity and fellowship, not solitude and loneliness.

Paul discussed unity in Ephesians 4. First he said, “I urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received.” Then he described a worthy walk in verse 2: “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

That kind of attitude, according to verse 3, makes unity possible; however nothing makes unity easy. Paul had been in enough churches to know that maintaining unity was as labor intensive as maintaining a sod farm in the Sahara Desert. But he also knew that unity was the only way the church would “become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (v. 13).

Paul emphasized that God’s eternal plan is all about unity–has been from the beginning, is now, and always will be. Then Paul illustrated his point by using the seven “ones” in verses 4 and 5.

If you are a baby boomer, as I am, you may be tempted to think of one as “the loneliest number.” However, as Christians we need to embrace the biblical perspective on the number one and “make every effort” to live in unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ. After all, as Jesus told His disciples, there’s only one way to ensure that others know we are members of His one church—“love one another” (John 13:35).

DIG DEEPER:

In verse 2, Paul uses the Greek verb spoudazo, “exert oneself,” which implies intense physical labor. It is also translated “study,” “labor,” and “give diligence” in 2 Timothy 2:15, Hebrews 4:11, and 2 Peter 3:14.  What are these verses implying about the Christian life?

The “one hope” to which Paul refers in Ephesians 3:4 is defined in Titus 2: 11-14 and 3: 4-7. See also Colossians 1:19-27.

What does Paul mean by “one faith”?  See Peter’s definition in Acts 4: 8-12 and Paul’s explanation in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5.

In Genesis 2:18, God declared, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” How does that principle relate to our spiritual lives as well as our physical lives?

Denise K. Loock

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