Summary: Unity and Agreement are not the same things. Unity and Union are not the same things. Hopefully, this message will lead you down a Biblical and practical path of instruction that will result in conflicts being resolved and unity being restored in many of God's people!
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NIV)
9. Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor:
10. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
11. Also, if two lies down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
12. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
• Unity and Agreement are not the same things
• Union and Unity are not the same things. – Tie two tomcat tails together and throw them over a clothesline. You will have a union but not Unity!
I. The Power of Unity
A. Sand, Concrete, and Water (unified) make a foundation to build upon.
B. The Union of a Man and a Woman produces a newborn life!
C. Unity brings peace because it brings The Blessing of God!!!
II. God is Against Dis-Unity Among His Children
A. A Proper Perspective of Romans 16:17-18
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." Romans 16:17-18 (KJV)
1. The warning and command to “mark and avoid” has to do with those who are peddling false doctrines.
B. God’s Word encourages us to avoid divisions amongst believers.
C. However, God’s Word encourages divisions when it comes to the world.
1. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 - Come out from among them and be ye separate.
III. Acquiring and Maintaining Unity
A. 5 Steps to Conflict Resolution
1. Set Unity as a Goal for Your Life and Relationships.
a. When our relationships are broken, the only thing we can see is our differences. The bridge that once united us disappears, leaving a chasm in between. Unity often starts as the goal but quickly fades when adversity strikes.
b. Why would we choose to stay in conflict when God’s Word says, “Unity is good and pleasant and brings blessing.” – Psalms 133
2. Be Willing to Ask for Forgiveness.
a. Some people don’t even know that you are hurt.
b. Consider the Prodigal Son – Luke 15
c. Humbling ourselves is hard, uncomfortable work. Our first instinct is to shift the blame instead of admitting our wrongs. When we feel entitled and proud, we will never see our faults, and the conflict could last a lifetime. But when our hearts are exposed in the light of the cross of Jesus Christ, we recognize that we are rarely blameless in conflict.
d. Pray that God would help give you a posture of humility in restoring broken relationships in your life.
3. Forgive Others.
a. Begin the process of forgiveness even if someone hasn’t asked for it yet. This makes it easier to complete the forgiveness sooner rather than later.
4. Involve Yourself in “Resolution Activity.”
a. Release yourself from the “Blame Game.”
b. Permit yourself to be wrong.
c. Months and years of resentment will turn a beautiful and fruitful relationship into bitterness and thorns. The best relationships are not conflict-free. Instead, they are marked by continual reconciliation.
d. Bitterness ages like milk, not wine.
e. “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” – Romans 12:19
5. Grow the Restored Relationship.
a. The Apostle Paul and Barnabas had a conflict concerning John Mark. The reason – John Mark had abandoned them earlier during persecution. Paul was done with him, but Barnabas wanted to give him another chance.
b. Paul and Barnabas split over this. Later, The Apostle Paul says, “Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me in ministry.” – 2 Timothy 4:11 – A picture of Restoration!
B. Repentance / Spiritual Warfare
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 – “…for the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds…”
Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
C. Love / The Active Presence of Jesus in everyday life. (Pause and pray for 60-second intervals)
Galatians 5:13-15 (NIV)
13. You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
14. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."
15. If you bite and devour each other, watch out, or you will be destroyed by each other.
• Prayer for Unity