Be the Church: Be Unified
One of the most amazing things about the first church was the remarkable level of unity they demonstrated. It tells us in Acts 4:32 that the believers were one in heart and mind and that no one claimed any of his possessions as his own, but rather they shared everything they had. A fellow brother or sister in Christ would never be in lack, because they were covered by their church family. This unity wasn't limited to one particular group of Christians, but rather was extended to nearby communities of Christians. We see in Acts chapter 11 that when the church in Judea was struggling, Christians in other areas rise up to meet their need. One huge problem I see with the church today is that we have lost this sense of unity. I think that one of the biggest weapons used by the enemy to divide us is offense. We forget that the church is filled with humans and humans are messy. Somebody does something to hurt us and we harbor offense, which leads to a separation in relationship. Our pride is wounded. We need to be able to exercise grace with one another and to love one another despite our many shortcomings.
We need to stop competing with other churches and ministries. This is not a competition to see who can get the most members and or the most people to come out to our events. We are all working towards the same goal, to see neighborhoods and communities transformed by the love of Christ. We need to partner together with other churches encouraging one another, equipping one another to see how we can pool our resources and best reach our communities.
I love what Paul says in Phil 2:1-4: "Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others." That pretty much sums it up. As we pursue Christ and seek to look more and more like Him, we should have the same mind-set. Our minds should be fixed on living a lifestyle of worship, sharing God's love with others and making the name of Jesus famous. After all, we are a family. We share the same DNA. We were all rescued by the same love. We all have the Holy Spirit living inside of us.
In order to truly achieve unity, we must examine our own lives and get rid of any selfishness. We need to examine our motives and where pride exists we need to make some adjustments. We need to value the people around us above ourselves, making sure that their needs are being taken care of. Last year, I went on a missions trip to Colombia to work in a children's home that my church supports. One night we met with all the pastors of the city that we were staying in. I was able to take part in a truly incredible prayer meeting, as we all jumped in our cars and traveled to the seven entrances of the city to pray. I was amazed how the pastors interacted with each other. There was so much humility present and it seemed like everyone's only objective was to honor the other men and women of God around them. It was evident that these pastors had a bond and the powerful prayer meeting we were all able to participate in was a result of their unity. Unity breeds strategy.
It tells us in John 13:35, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." It's time that we start loving one another within the church, so that that we can partner together in loving those outside of the church.