Summary: Unity in the church is critical to the fulfilment of it's mission to reaching a lost world. Message based on the chapters of the book, "I Am A Church Member" by Tom Rainer
Introduction: Years ago, there was a Peanuts cartoon strip where Lucy demanded that Linus change TV channels, threatening him with her fist if he didn't. "What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?" she asks Linus. "These five fingers," says Lucy. "Individually they're nothing but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold." "Which channel do you want?" asks Linus. Turning away, he looks at his fingers and says, "Why can't you guys get organized like that?
As we continue our series on I Am A Church Member, I want to talk about the importance of being a unifying church member and the importance of maintaining church unity. Indeed, a united church is a force that is terrible to behold against the powers of darkness. Likewise, a disunified church is impotent and ineffective - in fact it can even be detrimental to the cause of Christ because of it's tainted witness to the world. Jesus said in John 13:35 "By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." I believe that many a sinner has been turned away from Christ because believers in the local church failed to love one another and unite for the cause of Christ.
I. WHY UNITY IN THE CHURCH BODY IS IMPORTANT
a. Unity is the prayer and desire of Christ's heart (17:21)
b. Unity is a reflection of the Trinity (...Just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you)
c. Unity is a reflection of our relationship with God through Christ. (...also may be in us)
d. Unity is a testimony to the lost world. (...that the world may believe that you sent me.)
e. Unity is a product of the glory of God in us. (17:22)
II. WHAT UNITY IS NOT
a. Unity is not mere union (100 under names on a the same church role do not constitute unity)(Illus. Cats on a clothesline)
b. Unity is not a product of human effort, but divine empowerment (Acts 2:46 KJV & 4:31-32)
c. Unity is not always complete agreement with one another either
III. WHAT HINDERS UNITY
a. What hinders unity? Simply put: we do!
i. The uncontrolled tongue - (James 1:26, 3:3-12) (Illus. T.H.I.N.K before you speak)
3. Grumbling & Complaining
ii. A Critical Spirit (One thing to disagree, another to constantly question decisions that people make)
iii. An unforgiving heart (Stores up a record of wrongs for future remembrance)
iv. Unifying around personalities rather than our purpose.
b. Repenting of the things that hinder unity is the only cure for disunity.
IV. WHAT DOES UNITY PRODUCE (v. 23)
a. One Church = Won World. Unity in the church points people to the truth of God's love and plan to redeem humanity.
b. Unity enables the church to win the world to Christ because when we are unified in Christ...
i. We will be united in purpose
ii. We will be united in prayer
iii. We will be united in power
iv. We will be united in proclamation
Illustration: One way to avoid misusing your tongue is to T.H.I.N.K before you speak. Ask yourself: Is what I am about to say, True? Is it Helpful, not hurtful? Is it Inspiring (does it build others up)? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind?