Our church has been focusing on growing in unity by studying Philippians. We recognized that before we can go make a difference “out there,” we all need to be on the same team “in here.” This doesn’t just apply to the people I see every Sunday, but to all believers everywhere. We are called to be one. Jesus died for us as individuals, but He also died for us as a collective. The Church is His bride, and the more we practice togetherness with each other, the better we honor our Groom. Here are the basics of unity and some parting thoughts…
- Unity is hard. You must fight for it because it does not happen naturally. Everything in our culture (and our flesh) pushes personal accomplishment and self gratification. At the same time, though,
- Unity is easy. Even though our flesh wars against it, the Spirit of God within us urges us on, encouraging us and changing us from the inside out to become people of peace and love.
- Unity is essential. Jesus prayed that we would be one just as He and the Father are one. He understood that for an army to succeed, they must all be on the same side. Internal fighting makes the enemy’s job easy.
- Unity is possible. Every Christian in history is proof that a handful of people on the same page can change the world. If a band of stinky fishermen, tax collectors, and rebels could stand together in Christ, so can we.
- Unity is more important than you and me. We must keep our eyes off of ourselves and our personal desires. Nothing kills unity like selfishness.
- Unity moves through conflict in a healthy way. Whenever there are people present, opinions will differ and values will be trampled. How we deal with those situations dictates how close we will be to one another.
- Unity requires repentance and forgiveness. If we are to advance the kingdom, we must humbly ask forgiveness when necessary and humbly grant forgiveness when asked.
- Unity breeds generosity. The early church had all things in common and freely gave to one another. Never has there been a model of community more blessed and effective.
- Unity is surprising. It can come in hundreds of ways and at the most unexpected moments. But it never ceases to add a small shock of flavor into the world.
- Unity doesn’t mean losing your identity. It means moving toward Christ beside our brothers and sisters, becoming more authentically ourselves than ever before.
- Unity brings us together (obviously). It safeguards against feelings of isolation and loneliness. When you are a moving, growing, integral part of the body, you are never alone, no matter how bad your day was.
- Unity sets us apart. If we will be recognized by our love for one another, the way we love and think and move and speak must be different than that of the culture.
- Unity takes practice. Be consistent and vulnerable and available. The more you get in the habit of sharing life with others, the more unity will become a natural internal rhythm.
We have been given a huge task: to love one another as Christ has loved us and to go out into the world sharing that love with others. Be of good heart, friends. He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world. Stand together in faith and courage, remembering the power of one.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.