The theme of today's epistle if unity. St. Paul exhorts us to endeavor "to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." And why is this so?.... Because there is "one body, and one Spirit.... One Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of all." Therefore do we confess in the Creed (the Symbol of Faith), "one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church."
As Orthodox Christians, we are united to Christ in Baptism, and thus we are bound together in the unity of the same Faith. As the Psalmist proclaims, "how good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" Indeed, this unity is a precious treasure, a gift of grace, that we are obliged to guard and preserve--whatever the cost.
According to the popular saying, "United we stand--divided we fall." But this unity we the faithful are called to attain can be achieved only in and through the True Church of God, established on the day of Pentecost, when our Lord sent down upon His apostles the heavenly comforter, the Spirit of truth, that we all might become one, even as He and the Father are one. This Church--the holy Orthodox Church--"is the Church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth," the Faith that has established the universe. The Church is the Body of Christ and the Ark of Salvation. Only so long as we remain within this Ark, enduring together whatever storms and tumults of this world may come upon us, can we hope to weather the storm-tossed waves of this transitory life and to find at last a place of refuge in the harbor of salvation. It would be foolish indeed were we to set forth on our own in a flimsy rowboat that is bound to be dashed to pieces before reaching the safe haven of God's heavenly Kingdom.
"The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord," as Christ proclaims. Persecutions and trials are bound to come--even from members of our own household. And this is why we the faithful, who profess to belong to the same household of faith, must ever strive to maintain that precious unity, that we might "love one another, that in faith and the fear of God we may confess" that True Faith once delivered to the apostles and sealed by the blood of the martyrs.
Even in the days of St. Paul, the spirit of the Antichrist had already entered into the world, but the day of reckoning is fast approaching. Only those who are resolved to remain steadfast in the Faith, willing to remain faithful unto the end, can hope to survive amidst the deception and apostasy of this age, clinging to the sure and certain promise that the gates of hades shall not prevail against the Church of Christ.