Summary: A detailed look at what makes a church healthy and unified.
The Church - Unity
September 27, 2015
A mother looked out a window and saw Johnny playing church with their 3 kittens. He had them lined up and was preaching to them and the mother smiled and turned around to do some work. A short while later she heard the cats bellowing and meowing and screeching.
She ran outside and saw all the cats were sopping wet and Johnny was in the process of dunking the last of the kittens.
She yelled, “Johnny, what are you doing?”
He replied, “I’m baptizing the cats.”
“Johnny, stop that! You’ll drown those kittens.”
Johnny looked at her and said: “They should have thought about that before they joined my church.”
Whose church did Johnny think he was baptizing the kittens into?
Do Unity we ever get that way? Are we kind of similar to Johnny? We look at the church as mine. It belongs to me. It has to be what I want it to be, otherwise, we believe there is something wrong with the church.
Now, on the one hand, this is your church. We say “I am a member of FBC” or “I attend FBC.” But that does not make it your church.
In other words, and I need to be careful here, this is your church and it’s not your church. You don’t rule it, you don’t get to say, ‘well, I don’t like this, so we must change the way we do church.’ It’s not like that. You are one part of many parts. Your part is important, yet so are the many other parts. We are all equally important.
When I’m with other folks and we’re talking about church, I don’t like to refer to FBC as “MY CHURCH,” I often say “the church I pastor. . .” It’s not because I don’t identify with this as my home church, I do! But, I don’t want anyone to ever think this is MY church.
A Lutheran theologian from the 16th century wrote ~ “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.” - Rupertus Meldenius
That’s a great reminder for us. Yet what is essential for us? Where is our starting point for a church to seek unity and to hold onto unity? Meldenius reminds us it’s in the essentials. What are the essentials? Glad you asked. Paul gives us some real help. We’ve been looking at Ephesians 4 over the past few weeks and we’re looking at verses 4-6 today. I don’t want you to lose sight of what we spoke about last week, which were the first 3 verses — Paul wrote ~
1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
So remember the question from last week was ARE YOU LIVING YOUR LIFE IN A MANNER WORTHY OF YOUR CALLING AS A CHILD OF GOD?
Paul gave us 5 virtues — 5 ways we are to live our lives to show we are worthy. He urges us to live with all —
Maintain the unity in Peace.
1 Before getting to this point, Paul made it clear who the head of the church is . . . He wrote 18 And He is the head of the body, the church. – Colossians 1:18
22 And He put all things under His (CHRIST) feet and gave Him (CHRIST) as head over all things to the church, – Ephesians 1:22
So, we must start with the fact that Christ is the head of the church. We are not! We are privileged to be part of the church and seek to further the kingdom. So, with that in mind, Paul now takes us a step further. He tells us what the essentials are ...
4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call —
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Paul is talking about 7 points — 7 essentials we need to agree upon. He starts out stating there is ONE BODY.
It’s important to understand the church is not a company. We are one body. Just as our human bodies are comprised of thousands of cells, there’s only one life. And when you put us all together, we have a gazillion cells in this room. We are all the body of Christ. In a similar way, the body of Christ has an infinite number of expressions. It’s shaped by culture, by the personality of its people, by historical context and many other factors. But the one constant is that the true church all around the globe shares the life of Christ. We are one universal church, one body.