Summary: A sermon preached at nearby Immanuel church on unity, divisions and discipline within the church (local and city-wide)

Preserving the unity of the body. Immanuel church, Winchester 7/3/4am Eph 4:1-13


Had a friend drop by to stay Mon Tue pm while at leadership conference

- Shocked when told: ¡§30% of a leaders energy will go in conflict and stamping out fires¡¨

- you: ¡§oh, that¡¦s what happens in these older churches¡¨

o it was the Vineyard leaders conf

- Steve said: we¡¦d consider that a disaster in the business world. Huge proportion of energy spent on something unproductive

My experience: at times 70%. Currently 10% (praise God!)

I think, as Christians, we are often blind to the enemies tactics

- shouldn¡¦t be . 2 Cor 2:11 ¡¥we are not unaware of his schemes¡¦

- spend our time & energies fighting his ways ¡¥out there¡¦

- but my belief of the nature Satanic strategy¡K attack is that it comes from within the body

- friendly fire

Most of the distractions and destructions to us being fruitful, soul-winning churches, are our battlings within

- they don¡¦t WANT to join us

- (they will know you are my disciples if you love one another)

- see us as fighting over petty differences between our churches and within our churches

- many of our leaders are too exhausted trying to manage the baby, stamp out fires to do what we should be doing

o = saving the lost, whatever the cost

I do church now on the premise that what EVERYBODY¡K Christians and non-Christians¡K. need is to see lives changed by Jesus

- I¡¦m not negating pastoral care- but, seriously, 2/3 of our insular problems vanish when we see someone transformed

- it¡¦s what we were made/saved for

But many of our churches are too busy battling ¡¥the enemy within¡¦ to prioritise this

- hence: miss the testimonies¡K discouragement¡K death

So, when I¡¦m talking about unity- let me first start in the context of US


Paul says ¡¥make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit¡¦

He says in Phil

PHP 2:1 If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

So- IF you really ARE blessed in the Spirit¡K really are united with Christ

- then SHOW it by considering one another and being united

Make the effort. Put your energies HERE. Be united

Now- does this mean we should all be uniform. Agree on everything

- nope. Phil passage¡¦s focus is being one in PURPOSE. You can be one in purpose and have loads of ways of getting there!

- In the Eph passage Paul speaks about unity within the diversity of different gifts and approaches

Unity is not uniformity. Nor is it feeling that I have to agree with you on everything!

-Paul PHP 3:15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

Maturity (as Paul holds out as a goal here in Eph 4) is knowing what differences matter and which ones don¡¦t

- it¡¦s okay to have different opinions of minor things.

o In fact- it¡¦s healthy. I want it

o (cf Jewish synagogue: pattern of Phars & Sads!)

- on the creedal things, central things- nature of God, Jesus, salvation we are agreed

o but many other things: you may be right! Or may be wrong- but, if you love Jesus and are united in the purpose of bringing Him to all people: you¡¦re my brother/sister! I can work with you! Let¡¦s go for it

„X ¡§that the world may believe¡¨

Paul himself (a pedant and dogmatist!) accepts that there are some matters that are not worth ¡¥picking a fight¡¦ over

RO 14:1 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.

And it is true that we often choose to get upset over someone who feels differently. Or choose to take offence about something:

’It is not that you have offended me, but that I have TAKEN offence’ or ’It is not that I have offended you, but that you have TAKEN offence’ (i.e. we make CHOICE to take offence or not) Revd Brian White describing how he taught his church about godly, Christian responses

Don¡¦t do it. Learn to respect and get on and see what really matters. Make every effort for the sake of the church. Your church

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