Tuesday, November 16, 2021
One day several years ago as I was typing a devotional, I made an error. My dear friend Cindy caught it and called me. In an attempt to define the people of the church being UNITED I accidently typed that the people were UNTIED. Simple typing dyslexia, but how powerful a point it made because it is often true.
Unity is one of the characteristics of a spiritually healthy church. However, many people don’t understand what it is. To help us, let’s first talk about what it is not.
First, unity is not sameness in the sense that everyone must look the same, feel the same, act the same, or even think the same. There are certain non-negotiables of Scripture that regulate our thoughts and actions to produce holiness, as we discussed yesterday. However, when we begin to require robotic responses and behaviors that stifle the uniqueness of an individual and minimize the expression of their personality, we hinder the work of God’s Spirit.
Second, unity is not conformity to methods. Here’s what I mean by that: not everyone will do the same task in the same way. Some people demand that programs, ministries, and worship services be conducted in the same way they were always done regardless of the new people involved or new goals that have been set. Some churches are still doing things the same way they did them in the 60’s, because the people in charge are still living in the successes of those days. It’s like a pastor friend of mine said to me, “It’s tough to bring a church into the 80’s.” People resist change, but God provides new perspectives and personalities to invigorate a ministry. Let’s encourage newness and uniqueness.
So what is unity? It’s described for us in Ephesians 4:11-13.
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
The Greek word means agreement, and is used only twice in the entire New Testament, both times here in Ephesians 4 (verse 3 and 13). When combining the use of the term from both verses we come to a definition of unity that involves the following elements:
- Unity is built on the foundation of faith in the Person of Jesus Christ and His Lordship. (Unity in the knowledge of the Son of God)
- Unity is based on our agreement that everyone needs salvation and the atoning work of Jesus Christ on the cross provides for that salvation. (Unity in the faith)
- Unity is a product of the ministry of the Holy Spirit as He produces the character of Jesus Christ is each of us as individuals, manifesting itself in humility, gentleness, patience, and love. (Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.)
- Unity is strengthened when we agree that spiritual growth is progressive, and requires all of us to be servants for it to be realized in its fullness. (to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity…)
- Unity is achieved when the first four elements are accomplished and we experience the fullness of Christ in us as a church body. (attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.)
The church’s highest calling is to be the dwelling place of God through the Holy Spirit, because that produces unity. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 that we as individuals in the church are responsible to guard that unity, and anyone found destroying it will be held accountable. So how do people destroy the unity of the church? Well, simply put, by not focusing on the five characteristics of unity we just listed. But to be more specific, read First Corinthians chapter 3, and we’ll discuss it tomorrow.
For today, make sure you are correctly defining unity and all of the elements of unity are at work in your heart. As a church we need you to be focused on the saving power of Jesus Christ, on the work of the Holy Spirit to produce the character of Christ in us. That is best seen when we serve others in love. Humble hearts are required for unity to exist. How’s that going for you?