Summary: Looking at marks of a unified church.
The Church - Unity
September 20, 2015
Last week we began a series looking at the universal church and at First Baptist Church all at the same time. I spent a little time talking about what makes a church effective and I concluded we could debate all the extraneous stuff — we could talk about all the churchy stuff, we could talk deep theology, we could have lots of videos and do all kinds of stuff . . . BUT what makes a church effective must begin with Jesus Christ.
It’s a church which fully believes in Jesus as Lord and Savior. It’s a church which may not always agree with one another theologically or on some of the churchy issues or on the color of the carpeting . . . BUT it’s a church which is unified as brothers and sisters in Christ. And it starts because of our common faith in Jesus.
Of course things get in the way . . . and what gets in the way of unity is you and I. It’s so easy for a church to begin to fight over the little things and they escalate into the really big ugly brawls.
It’s one of the worst things that can happen in a church. I’ve witnessed them and it’s truly a disgrace to the name of Christ — when people fight one another instead of working together. It happens more often than we realize.
Tradition claims that Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre is built over the cave where Christ was buried. Six Christian denominations — Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Roman Catholic, Coptic Orthodox, Ethiopian Orthodox, and Syriac Orthodox — all share jurisdiction of the church. Sadly, they don’t get along with one another.
For example, the Ethiopians control the rooftop. They literally have squatting rights. However, when a Coptic monk on the roof moved his chair into the shade where the Ethiopian monk was sitting, they began trash talking — which led to pushing and shoving and then to an all-out brawl. 11 monks were injured, including one who was taken to the hospital unconscious. And all this took place in a church that’s supposedly built where Jesus was buried.
Another example is this video of a fight between Greek and Areminian Monks in 2011.
It’s really pretty pathetic . . . Can you imagine the fighting? We can show more fights . . . but the goal and the hope is that we can understand that after embracing a life changing relationship with Jesus, that is exactly what is supposed to happen. Our lives are supposed to change. We are supposed to be a different person after we say YES to Jesus.
Last week we were looking at the overall theme of Ephesians 4:1-6, and today we’re going to look only at the first 3 verses to see what makes a church healthy and effective. Let’s look at Ephesians 4 ~
1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
2 with all HUMILITY and GENTLENESS, with PATIENCE, BEARING WITH ONE ANOTHER IN LOVE,
3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the BOND OF PEACE.
So, what’s Paul telling us?
In verse 1, Paul is exhorting and commanding us.
The word URGE shows us the seriousness of Paul’s message. He is urging, commanding, beseeching, and pleading with us. He wants us to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which we have been called. In other words, Christ followers are to live in a manner worthy of being called a child of God. We’ve been adopted into God’s family and we’re to bring joy, glory and honor to God. We’ve been accepted and embraced by the family and now we must demonstrate the love and grace we have received by God to one another and to the world.
Think about when a child does something that shows a lack of respect to their parents. People will often say “Oh, I told you those parents didn’t do a very good job raising little Sally.” Or when a child does well — people may say, “I always said they did a good job raising Sally.”
Whatever we do, we show the world our real character. And it’s a reflection of our relationship with God. If we’re okay with church fights like those monks, that shows who God is in our lives and we are not living a life worthy of the calling we have received.
If we live our faith and seek to make a difference in the world in a positive and constructive way, then the world will see Christ in us in a positive light. Our lives should have been renewed and we need to demonstrate that to the world.