Summary: Satan's greatest tool in undermining the work of the local church is disunity. The church is called to be unified in purpoose and passion.
Series: I Am a Church Member
(based on and adapted from Thom Rainer’s book by the same name)
“I Will Be a Unifying Member”
Last week, we started a six week series based on Thom Rainer’s book I Am a Church Member. I said that this will be a journey. It’s a journey designed to discover and in some cases rediscover the privilege and joy of church membership. It’s also a journey that will lead us into better church health. If even one of our members becomes healthier, there will be a greater impact on our community and even across the world.
The second step in the journey to determine that “I Will Be a Unifying Church Member.” God desires for Christians to get along.
Just a few years ago there was a problem on the Miami Dolphins football team. Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin had every reason as teammates to be friends, but they were not. Incognito harassed and bullied Martin. He called him a racial slur in a voicemail played by every media outlet in the country. He threatened to kill Martin and his family. Incognito claimed all of this was just locker room talk. He said it’s just the way the guys talk to one another in the NFL. Apparently, Martin didn't get that memo. He left his lucrative job citing emotional issues and fear for his life.
Though we don't know all the details, it appears as if Martin has some culpability, as well. He was far too passive in dealing with Incognito's threatening behavior. As a teammate, it appears, he should have expressed how troubling Incognito's threats were to him. These two men had many more reasons to get along than to have a toxic relationship.
Consider all the reasons they had to be friends. They were both football players. They played on the same team. They had the same head coach. Both played on the offensive line. They even played next to each other on the line. Both men were starters and they both had the desire to win.
Yet somewhere along the way one or both of them forgot they played for the same team and began to treat the other like someone from a rival team. They forgot the enemy was across the field seeking to prevent them from winning football gamers.
Just like those men, we as church members have plenty of reasons to work together for the same goal. Eph. 4:4-6 – There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
We share those important things: the same body of believers, the same Holy Spirit, the same hope of eternity with Jesus Christ, who is our same Lord. We share the same faith, the same baptism, the same God and Father of all. Yet, disunity and division is common among our churches.
Jesus said in Jn. 13:34-35 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” The world will know if we are Christians or not by the way those who are believers act toward one another.
When you become a Christian, God expects you to be a part of His church. But when you become a part of His church, He wants you to be a unifying presence there.
That Thing Called Unity
Michael Jordan: “Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” Sports teams with average talent can win championships. It doesn’t matter how many superstars you have on the team if they can’t play together as a team.
Unity is important. It is critical. William Barclay said, ““The gospel cannot truly be preached in any congregation which is not one united band of brothers.”
When church members don’t work well together, the church is weaker as a whole. Jesus says in Mk. 3:24-25 – “If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
Unity is vital to the health of a church. One of the meanings of vital is absolutely necessary or essential. You can’t get along without it.
Eph. 4:1-3 – As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
Paul says, “I urge you” to do something. What is that? To live a life worthy of the calling you have received. The word “live” literally means “as you walk around.” “Worthy” points to behavior that is suitable to the calling received. How do we behave in a way that is suitable or worthy of our calling? Paul gives us five ways that we’re to do that.