Summary: Our faith is strengthened when we are in unity with others.
“...until we all reach unity in the faith”
Job security? Probably.
But if my job is to promote unity in the Body of Christ then I’m working hard toward unemployment. Hmmm.
If my job is “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 1 Then what I am striving for is job insecurity. Yeaaaaah!!!??
Let’s face it – I have job security. That’s just reality.
There is no unity in the Church today.
And at the rate we’re going now, there isn’t likely to be.
The Body of Christ that Jesus said would be known by its love for one another; is know for its hypocrisy, hatred and fighting!
The people that Jesus said would be one as He and the Father are one; are more divided now than ever before!!!
THIS SHOULD NOT BE!
Psalm 133 - How wonderful it is, how pleasant, when brothers live together in harmony!
2For harmony is as precious as the fragrant anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe.
3Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And the LORD has pronounced his blessing, even life forevermore.2
Let’s face it; if the requirement is living together in harmony, or unity as some translations put it, then God’s not “pronouncing” any blessings on the church in Greenville Texas.
THIS SHOULD NOT BE!
Jesus says this in John 17:21-23 - “My prayer for all of them is that they will be one, just as you and I are one, Father—that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me.
22 “I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are—23 I in them and you in me, all being perfected into one. Then the world will know that you sent me and will understand that you love them as much as you love me.3
I don’t know about you, but I want to experience some of that glory.
If Jesus meant what He said then the glory is already ours. I tend to think that we won’t fully experience that glory as long as we are so divided.
So what do we do now?
I believe that part of the answer lies in the church’s response to the division that exists.
I think that we can gain much wisdom from Nehemiah and how he responded to the news of the state of the wall around Jerusalem.
First a little background:
The Jewish people had been taken into the Babylonian captivity and had been captive to Babylon for 70 years. Then, in 530 BC the armies of Persia broke the Babylonian supremacy and the King of Persia released the Jewish remnant and encouraged them to return to Jerusalem.
At that time 50,000 Israelites did return and began immediately to reconstruct the demolished Temple. Opposition from the people who had settled there during the captivity soon discouraged them. They abandoned their task with only the foundation having been rebuilt. A few years later, Haggai and Zechariah appeared on the scene, pointed out the people’s neglect, and challenged them to finish the job. This they did twenty years after their return.
Sixty more years passed and under Ezra’s leadership more of the remnant returned to Jerusalem. Although the Temple had been rebuilt, the walls of the city were in shambles and the gates burned. So for ninety years after the first Jews returned, the people of God lived in affliction and shame in a city with broken walls and burned gates.4
We can safely say that an entire generation had grown up with Jerusalem in this condition. It was normal for them. That’s the way it had always been.
1. Recognition - vs. 3
“Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” 5
What we must first do is recognize the SIN of division so prevalent in the church today.
2. Responsibility – vs. 4-6a
When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. 5 Then I said:
“O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel.6