Summary: Christians can enjoy a wonderful unity together with one another. Our bond is Christ. Blest be the tie that binds! And yet we are different from one another...and should be.
The Church's 4G Network
I want to know how rich you are. Do you know why? Is it for tithing purposes? No. It's for your sake. I mean true riches. Add up everything you have that money can't buy and death can't take away, and that's how rich you really are! All we tend to count important in life we can lose, and yet what's truly important none can ever take from us! We can have unity with God, and with one another.
A. The Graces of Unity.
Unity is not the same as uniformity.
Unity comes from within. Uniformity comes from pressure from without.
Unity brings us together. Uniformity brings us to compromise. [And it comes at the expense of convictions and beliefs.]
Unity is not the same as union.
Today's ecumenical movement [one church] says we must tear down walls of doctrine which divide us. I say, tear down walls of prejudice and jealousy, but don't touch a wall which God built, like the wall of doctrine!
Tie 2 cats tails together and throw them over a clothesline. You will have union. You will not have unity.
Unity in the body of Christ says the arms and legs can work together, and don't have to look like each other. We don't all have to agree on everything...just agree on Jesus! Each differing body part serves its own role. You don't have to shift flesh from one area to another to have unity. [I have that furniture problem where your chest falls into your drawers!]
Unity allows us to work together, but not at the expense of our core principles. With that said, we don't have to be exactly alike to work together, or that would be uniformity. Two Pastors can work together without completely agreeing on every minor detail. Now it would be a problem if they disagreed on major things, but otherwise we can agree to disagree, formulate a plan, and go with it in unity. You and your spouse can compromise on little details, but it gets ugly if you can't get together on something big like your philosophy of raising children. So when a man and woman have a tiff over something like what TV show to watch next, it can usually we worked out easily by the man just deciding if he wants to eat or not!
There are 4 graces of unity: [you need all 4 to have unity]
1. Lowliness=not pride.
This quality of humility is strange because once you find that you have it...you just lost it!
ill.--A guy won a button in s.s. that said 'most humble'. Then they took it away the next week because he wore it.
The way to know you truly have a servant's heart is by the way you act when you are treated like one. It's easy to say the words, I have a servant's heart, until someone asks you to take a lower place and asks you to do something that is beneath your dignity.
Humility is not thinking low of yourself, but not thinking of yourself at all. The opposite of lowliness is pride, which destroys unity.
2. Meekness=not weakness.
It's power under control. It's a strong horse that has been broken and will obey the reins.
Jesus was meek, but certainly not weak.
Moses was meek. Think about the day he came down off the mountain and found his assistant had led the people to fashion the golden calf. God threatened to wipe them out and start over with just Moses. Many prideful, self serving men would go for that plan, but Moses pleaded with God to spare them, for restoration, and not to throw the clay away!
Sometimes we in leadership may have some success and feel some sense of power and authority and respect, and want to show it off, throw our weight around, and remind everybody who's boss. That isn't meekness. That destroys unity.
3. Longsuffering=not defensive. [and it's not patience either]
It's the ability to be mistreated without fighting back.
"I'll be your friend, unless you cross me...and then, watch out!"
ill.--a Quaker had a mule that would not plow. He'd say giddy up, and the mule wouldn't budge. He walked around and looked the mule in the eye and said, Thou knowest I am a Quaker, and canst not hit thee. What thou dost not know is that my brother in law is a Baptist, and if thou dost not plow, I will sell thee to him, and he shall kill thee.
Baptists have the reputation sometimes of defending ourselves more than we defend the faith! This isn't about us...it's about the good of the sheep in this fold!
When you are longsuffering you let God be your defender, and He does a much better job of defending you than you ever could.