Sep 19 2021 - Unity
19th September 2021
Paul is talking about the unity among the Jews and Gentiles in the early church. No doubt, we have such a need for unity today.
There are three things that have contributed to disunity – Race relations, Politics, and the Pandemic.
Rehashing through these different issues does not help – or promote unity – but often promotes more division – so we focused on how to become peacemakers and to promote unity – like Paul said – to pursue the things that promote for peace and to build one another up in love,.
Philippians 45 Let your forbearing spirit be known to every one--the Lord is near.
They were having unity issues in their church
Reasonable, gentle, approachable spirit be known to all
Quick to yield
Not needing to have the last word – not needing to be right all the time. This is critical if we want to be peacemakers today.
6 Do not be over-anxious about anything, but by prayer and earnest pleading, together with thanksgiving, let your request be unreservedly made known in the presence of God. 7 And then the peace of God, which transcends all our powers of thought, will be a garrison to guard your hearts and minds in union with Christ Jesus.
We need to have hearts of peace – peace with God, not with reactionary attitudes or anxiety.
Third - 8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever wins respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovable, whatever is of good repute--if there is any virtue or anything deemed worthy of praise--cherish the thought of these things.
Let your mind dwell on these things – the pure, excellent, lovely things.
9 The doctrines and the line of conduct which I taught you--both what you heard and what you saw in me-- hold fast to them; and God who gives peace will be with you.
The God of peace is with us! In our church!
Filling our minds with good stuff! We probably spend too much time on social media looking at the arguments and divisive stuff. We probably need to cut back on that or stop it all together. I DO listen to a lot of podcasts – and the more controversial a subject, the more hits you get – so even the podcasts cater to these things – and I stop listening when they do that.
We need to become people of peace – to be peacemakers – and build up one another in love!
Henry – My dad studied philosophy – and the five kids were taught to debate well – and concretely. We would discuss all the hot topics of the day back in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Our family spread over 14 years, and there were some hotly debate and held views.
We never left feeling like our pain was more important than relationships – we walked away friends.
Suzanne – when our small group wanted to dive into Unity in the Church – I was so excited – this is so needed – and my second thought – how do we discuss this without becoming bitter enemies. God showed me – on a small scale – how this was supposed to work.
I hate disagreement and discord – I was raised as an only child and any conflict was a huge deal. People would not speak to each other for days – grudges were held, sometimes for years. Enter Henry’s family – all loud, with opnions! I was introduced to them at a dinner with 12 there – talk about a panic attack! At the end of the evening – they were still friends – I felt like an anthropologist studying an unknown culture – it was that foreign to me!
Paul – Ephesians 2:14-16 -
14 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.
I think this must be one of those already/but not yet situations! Did they still have disagreements? Yes. But the wall of hostility was broken down – THROUGH CHRIST.
We all have our experiences – but we are all one family in Christ – and what we share is more critical than our differences. We all have differing backgrounds – but we can all go home on speaking terms, expressing love for one another, because Christ has brought us together.
We have the potential, through Christ, to love each other despite our differences – and what a testimony that is to the world.
John – my brain was all over the board when asked to talk about unity.
I thought about John 17 – I in them, and you in me that they may be perfected in unity! – There is a whole chapter on that – but I don’t get it – go read it – it is lovely.
I thought about sharing the disunity among the disiples and apostles – where to sit, who should be circumcised, whether Mark should go with Barnabas and Paul.
But I decided to stick with what Mike recommended in Ephesians. We have been covering this for several weeks, but this is worth highlighting again and again – unity is one of the most important things.
I want to skim through Ephesians to get to Paul’s point – he goes on sidelines and detours – and I hope to draw a straight line through his thoughts.
Chapter 2 – so many great verses - 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. – His poetry – great talking points – but maybe so great that they grab our attention and take away from those things.
I belonged to a group
Main points – Chapter 4 – Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
Chapter 2 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off [j]have been brought near [k]by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the [l]barrier of the dividing wall,
18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the [p]saints, and are of God’s household,
More embellishing – good stuff, but not for this context…
For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
4 Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, 3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
The reason Paul has to impore? It is hard.
The separate discussion – HOW can we be worthy of our calling? , 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,
We need each of these.
3 being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Be diligent – that sounds like hard work –
If one of us gets hurt, we all feel it.
. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; 5 one Lord (Jesus), one faith (in the end, we all have one faith), one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.
We are all one family – and don’t accept anything except how to be divided – we need to stop wondering when THEY will be divided from us. The bottom line – there is no we or them – just us –
Kay – I may be reiterating what you have already heard.
I stumbled across a video of Francis Chan – after he had returned from Hong Kong – and our small group went through his book – this topic is huge – from racial unity – to community – to our church – where God has been leading me.
A couple years ago, I worked for a Christian school – and part of my job was meeting the families – and they came from wealth and poverty – refugees from Thailand, Nepal, Cameroon – and I noticed that many of these families stuck together with their people-group.
As I got to know these families – I discovered that not many Americans have reached out to invite them into their homes. The occasion aroose where a family had to stop at my house and I invited them in. This felt like sacred ground to them.
Then there is the division in the Churhc.
Chan was a speaker at a Christian conference – and at the time – there was a group of Charismatic Catholics at the same center – and he was asked to come share the gospel at the conference – and he paused – because he was concerned how it might be perceived in the Christian community. He eventually did it – but he paused.
At another opportunity – a prosperity gospel pastor asked Francis Chan to lunch.
The pastor shared how he had made a mess of his life – and was confessing and humble – and they had a time of praise and it was moving – and maybe, Francis thought – that same of the things he had heard were not true.
Jesus destroyed the dividing wall – uniting the believers – and I was saying YES! But it is not what I see.
In order to be united, we need the same foundation – faith in Christ.
We can be united with them.
Then there might be vast differences.
I’ve grown – hopefully hurting fewer people!
John 15:35 – That’s how they know we follow Christ.
1 Cor. 13 – Love is patient, kind – does not boast – keeps no record of wrongs –
And this is how we show love.
If I share the foundation of Christ with somebody – the natural outpouring will be the fruit of the spirit.
If I am seeking Christ and they are seeking Christ – the Holy Spirit can bring about unity.
I have one more thought – I have a lot of people in my life I love without that foundation – what do I do with that? I asked the Lord – and He brought to mind – Luke 6:35 – Love your enemies – Because He is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked – that is His character.
So on one hand – the unity that occurs in the body of believers – we need to love well – and then we need to love everyone else well too!