Summary: This sermon looks at what makes a harmonious church. It desribes an attitude that is necessary to cultivate unity, then the basis for that unity, and finally it ends with some practical applications to foster unity within the body. Includes study guide a
Series: What Makes a Great Church!
Sermon: A Church that is united.
Text: Eph 4:1-16
As a parent, one of your primary desires concerning your kids is that they would get simply along. No parent desires to see their dearest offspring going out it and bickering. A while back my two oldest girls, who normally get along very well started to bicker and argue, and before you knew it, it was an old fashioned bar room fist-a-cuff. Now, I know this is not what you would expect from a pastor’s home. Pastor’s kids are supposed to spend their time gathered around the oil lamb engrossed in a bible study singing Kum-Ba-Ya. But when I went into their room and saw those two girls not getting along, it hurt me. Now kids will be kids, I know, but as their father, my wish is for my children to love each other, not bicker and argue.
Now if that is how I feel, being an earthly father, imagine how our Heavenly Father must feel when He gazes at His children and sees them bickering and arguing; When those who are gathered together in His name spend their time cussing each other rather than praising their Father. One way a child can honor its father is to get along with its siblings, and not to do so is an insult. That’s why when my girls argue and fight, I don’t go in there and sing their praises, no I punish them. And in the same manner, I doubt that God ever blesses a bickering church.
Right before He was crucified, Jesus prayed a prayer for His disciples and then for those who would come to believe, namely us. And it’s a truly amazing prayer, because in that prayer He prayed for one specific thing amongst us that would let the world know that God had truly sent His Son into this world. What was that one thing? Was it powerful preaching? Good music? No, Jesus prayed for the harmony of His believers. Listen to the prayer of Jesus found in John 17:20, “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent Me.”
So if the world is going to know that Jesus is the Christ, then we His body must learn to live in harmony. Now how do we go about doing that…since there are so many people, each of us unique and different in make up, status, and opinions? With such a diverse group of personalities, how do we foster this harmony?
In our text for today, the Apostle Paul will tell us. Now in the first three chapters of this book, Paul has dealt with doctrine, now he makes into the application of that doctrine. Faith is doctrine put into action. For the first 3 chapters here, Paul has spoke about why we are the church, now he moves into how we are to be the church. And his first focus is on unity. Now, I say this concerning the emphasis on doctrine because, for a church to be united, it must be united in the essential doctrines of the Christian faith. We are not united just for the sake of being united; no, we are united in the truth. Now, this doesn’t mean that we are dogmatic in our beliefs and say that everybody has to think alike on every subject. The one thing I truly like about our denomination is that we have that leeway in our beliefs. John Wesley said that we think and let think, but he said this about issues that did not strike at the root of Christianity. So to suggest that a person can believe whatever that person wants and still be united in the faith is simply ridiculous.
With that taken care of, Paul gives us in this text some ways we can be a united body of believers. Now we’re going to tackle this in three parts, first we’ll look at the attitude that is necessary to cultivate this unity, then we will look at the basis of this unity, and we will conclude with some practical applications on how to foster this unity. Now, I’m going to ask that you listen carefully, because if God will not bless a bickering church, then I want us to avoid becoming one at all cost.
Now the first thing we see here is the attitude that is necessary to cultivate unity. Christian Unity doesn’t begin with an eternal structure, but rather in the attitudes of the heart.
So what kind of attitude is necessary? The first aspect is that within the church their needs to be and ambition to live a life worthy of being called a Christian. When two people have the same ambition to live their life a certain way, the find that they automatically have a great deal in common and it enables them to be united. As those who call ourselves Christians, we are striving to live a holy life, to move on to perfection, which simply means to love God and your neighbor more tomorrow than you did today, and if since we have that same ambition to live our life a certain way, we have a great deal in common.