I was encouraged and convicted the other day when I sat through a message concerning God's heart for His people. Afterwards, I was prompted to take a deeper look into the subject of unity. Here are some things I've been thinking about since the message:
Jesus' prayer for you and I who name the name of Christ is that we may be one.
"That all may be one; as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent Me." (John17:21)
As I read further, I noticed Jesus prayed that prayer "to be one" three times.
"To be one" speaks to me of being one in heart and one in spirit. It's more than just a common interest that brings us together....that happens all over - bikers, crafters, chess players, homeschoolers, etc., will travel miles to come together or will meet over internet websites because they have common interest. But for us, it goes much deeper than having some common interest that brings us together - we have "the Spirit of adoption." We have been made the children of God, ...."and if children heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ." (Romans 8:15-17) " We have one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all." As we are one body, we are to "endeavor to keep the unity in the bond of peace, (Eph. 4:3-6) so that the world may believe.
If we proclaim Christ, but cannot dwell together in unity, how will the world believe? We offer no more than what they already have as far as the world is concerned.
This got me to pondering key elements of being one and dwelling together in unity.
▪ Grace and Humility
Paul beseeches us to walk worthy of this vocation that we are called to "with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love." Here I see a call to grace, humility, and understanding. We come from many different backgrounds, each with different experiences and stories, and so we have various perspectives. Not one of us is at the same level of spirituality. We each have our strengths and weaknesses, and where we may have grown in truth in one area, there may be another area of truth that we are blind to....this challenges me to have grace and understanding for those who do not see things the same as I do and humility in realizing a difference in perspective could be my blind spot. It also makes me think to be appreciative of my brother's differences, outlooks and perspectives as we can always learn from eachother.
Paul exhorts us to "let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying..." (Eph 4:29) Negativity and critisism will tear people apart. Paul warns: "If ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another." (Gal 5:15) This causes me to ponder and evaluate what I communicate - is it negative talk or is it positive, encouraging and edifying?
We are all fallen men, and we will fail eachother at one time or another....count on it! The only one who will never fail us is God. My dad has reminded me that over and over. Since we will at one time or another experience offences, it is important to keep a heart of forgiveness and not allow bitterness to take root - to let the past be the past, to let go of the offence, and embrace the offender with love and forgiveness, and move on.
"You can't hold a man down without staying down with him." Same is true if we can't forgive.
"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. " (Eph 4:32)
"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints." (Eph 6:18)
This is an area I want and need to grow in.
Do we take time, real time, lifting eachother up before tbe throne of grace? Do we take time to hear eachothers burdens, cares and struggles so we can better pray for them? Do we communicate our own burdens, needs and weaknesses so that our brother may know how to pray?
We are not all called to preach, teach or evangelize, etc., but we can all pray!!
I believe the more we hold eachother up in prayer, the more we'll be united in spirit and the more God can do through His people.
▪ Abide in Christ
It is of utmost importance!
"Abide in Me , and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in Me. (John 15:4)
We cannot truly love our brother until the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. We cannot give what we do not have. To do these things in our strength will result in utter failure. Only as we abide in Christ will we be able to become one with Him and one with eachother.
As I've pondered this whole subject, I've come away with a fresh perspective of the Church and renewed desire to actively be one in heart and spirit with the brethren God has placed me with!
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!