Summary: A look at what makes a healthy and unified church.

The Church - Unity

October 11, 2015

Romans 14:1-13

Throughout history churches have split for the craziest reasons ~~

Holy Creek Baptist - piano bench — they had 4 separate services — moving piano bench to a different location for each one.

Centerville, Ga - presbyterian church split in 1911 - offering before / after sermon

has now split 47 times since.

Church splits over alleulia/hallelujah

Name of the church — Is it spelled Immanuel or Emmanuel.

Pews or chairs

We find it very easy to argue and speak out on what we believe are absolutes. One of the problems I see in our churches is a careless belief that we are free to judge one another, and make demands even when we don’t fully understand the situation. We don’t consider the damage it does to others, nor do we often care. We believe it’s acceptable to judge others and proclaim what we believe is the truth, based on self-righteousness, pride and arrogance . . . all in the name of Jesus.

We are far too quick to judge a person or come up with conclusions based on limited knowledge. We hurt the reputation and character of others. Once that happens, we cannot take it back.

We can easily bite one another, in fact, as I was researching this message, I came upon this . . .

An issue of National Geographic included a photograph of the fossil remains of two saber-tooth cats locked in combat. The article stated, “One had bitten deep into the leg bone of the other, a thrust that trapped both in a common fate.” The cause of the death of the two cats – they were too busy fighting each other. Can the same be said of the church.

As the apostle Paul put it: 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. — Galatians 5:15

Isn’t that what happens when we are consumed with devouring one another. Both parties end up consumed by their desire to defeat the other. That’s what happened to the saber tooth tigers, and that can happen within the church as well.

We need to understand that satan is a master at using controversial issues to distract the church from her true mission in the world. A former police officer tells of the tactics of a group of thieves: “They enter the store as a group. One or two separate themselves from the group, and the others start a loud commotion in another section of the store. This grabs the attention of the clerks and customers. As all eyes are turned to the disturbance, the accomplices fill their pockets with merchandise and cash, leaving before anyone suspects. Only later does the merchant realize they have been robbed.” How often this strategy is used by the Evil One! (Tom McHaffie)

We are seduced into paying attention to the distractions, while our churches are ransacked. We don’t lose merchandise, we lose our mission and focus.

For the past 4 weeks we’ve been looking at the church and what it means to be a unified body. It’s very easy for a church to become distracted with what is not essential. Remember the quote of Rupertus Meldenius that we’ve looked at for the past 2 weeks ~

“In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”

That’s a great reminder for us. We must focus on what is essential. Yet, it becomes too easy to focus on what is not essential, so we lose our focus and frankly end up wasting our time over things which really have no bearing on growing the Kingdom.

At times the early church was also stuck in disputing the nonessentials. Paul addressed this in Romans 14-15. Last week we spent our time looking at verse 1. Learning we are to open our hearts to one another, not to pass judgement on one another and to hold our personal opinions to ourselves.

Paul’s goal was to help the church learn how to live out the gospel when they had different opinions. He wanted to help them see what the bigger picture was.

Paul wanted them to understand ~

5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,

6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. – Romans 15:5–7

There are so many things we can disagree on — politics, dating, education, alcohol, worship style, clothing choices, smoking, movies, dancing, tattoos, divorce and remarriage, gambling.

We tend to argue and fight over what is minor than over what is really important and crucial to the church. There will always be disagreements, there will always be different ways to think about every topic.

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