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Summary: The Blessing of unity (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: gcurley@gcurley.info)

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Reading: Romans chapter 15 verses 5-6

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one heart and one mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

You expect to find a benediction near the close of a letter;

• And the end of this letter would be chapter 16 verse 27.

• But Paul chose to write this benediction elsewhere .

• It is deliberately written at the end of a long section in this letter

• (chapter 14 verse 1 to chapter 15 verse 13). That focuses on unity in the Church

Quote: American author & humorist Mark Twain used to say:

• “He put a dog and a cat in a cage together as an experiment,

• Just to see if they could get along. They did,

• So he put in a bird, pig and goat.

• They, too, got along fine after a few adjustments.

• Then he put in a Baptist, Presbyterian, and Catholic;

• Soon there was not a living thing left”.

• Sadly Bible history and church history bear record to Mark Twain’s observation;

• That so often Christians do not get along with each other!

Ill:

E.g. Luke chapter 9 verse 45:

• Even the twelve disciples argued among themselves;

• And they even did it while Jesus was right there with them!

Ill:

E.g. Acts chapter 15 verse 36-41:

• The apostle Paul himself had a strong falling out with Barnabas over John Mark,

• As to whether or not they should take him on the mission field.

Ill:

• And some of the New Testament churches;

• Broke the heart of the apostle Paul with their disputes and divisions.

Now in his letter to the Romans the apostle Paul dropped this blessing into his teaching:

• Because he wanted his readers (and that includes us!)

• To share in the blessing he was writing about – the blessing of unity.

Note: The problem

• The problem in the Church at Rome that caused the disunity;

• Was that the congregation was made up of two types of people.

• The congregation included both Jewish and Gentile believers;

• This meant a huge clash of cultures and understanding.

e.g.

• (a). Some who became followers of Jesus from a Jewish background;

• Had a hard time leaving behind their Jewish customs & traditions;

• e.g. they thought that they needed to maintain kosher homes;

• e.g. they thought they need to observe special days & follow the Jewish religious calendar.

• (b). Other followers of Jesus from a Jewish background who were strong in the faith;

• Understood that they no longer needed to obey dietary regulations;

• They no longer needed to keep special days;

• (c). Those converted to Christ from a Gentile background;

• Had never practised the law of Moses, so it meant nothing to them;

• They knew that everything they needed was found in Christ and Christ alone!

Between these groups there developed bad feelings.

• They judged and condemned each other,

• They no doubt stuck together and formed cliques that divided the Church.

• This disagreement marred & weakened the Church in their witness for Christ;

• And also robbed them of fellowship with the whole of the Church fellowship.

• And it also spoilt their own enjoyment of the Lord himself.

Note: The solution:

• Paul gives three instructions to these (and all) Christians;

• On how to heal the divisions among God’s people.

• (1). Accept one another in Christ (14: 13-23).

• (2). Build one another up in Christ (14: 13-23).

• (3). Seek to please one another for the sake of Christ (15:1-7).

• The benediction that we are looking at this morning;

• Comes at the end of this third instruction.

• Unity is not based on things cultural, national or organizational.

• Unity is based on things spiritual – i.e. our position in Jesus Christ!

The Benediction:

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the (one attitude) same attitude of mind toward each other that (one example) Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

(1). Unity comes from God.

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you…”

Quote:

• “We don’t look alike, we don’t act alike.

• We don’t dress alike.

• We have different tastes in the food we eat.

• The books we read, the films we watch, the cars we drive and the music we enjoy.

• We support different football teams or have different leisure interests;

• We ascribe to different philosophies and differ over politics.

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