Summary: In our world today, it’s obvious that many churches don’t know how to establish unity among their people. God talks about it here in his Word.
Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16 UNITY IN THE HOUSE OF GOD
Once upon a time there were four men who decided to get together and build a house. And so they began to work. It didn’t take long for them to start having problems. One of the men said, “I think the bathroom in this house should be over here.” “No,” said the second one. “That’s where the living room goes.” “That’s not where the living room goes,” said the third man. “That’s where the kitchen goes.” “You’re all wrong,” said the fourth, “That’s where the garage should go.”
None of them could agree on how the house should be built. There was no unity.
A local pastor who lived across the street came over to see what was going on. He listened to the situation, and said, “That sounds like my church. No unity. Some people in my church believe that we should baptize infants. Others don’t. Some people believe that Jesus is the only way to heaven. And, some people don’t. The people in my church don’t agree on anything.”
“So how does your church stay together?” the builders asked. “Well,” said the pastor, “We just agree to disagree. Maybe that’s what you should try.”
The four home builders said, “Well, let’s try it. Let’s try to build this house, and let’s agree to disagree.” But that didn’t’ work. It wasn’t long before the builders were so upset with each other that they each went their separate ways.
Unity is an important thing if you’re going to build a house. Unity is an important thing if you’re going to build a church, too. That’s our goal, isn’t it? To build God’s church. Remember, the church is not a building, but people. Last week we learned how each one of us is a brick that fits into the house of God. Our goal is to bring people together and build them on God’s Word.
But we need unity. Many churches today believe that it’s OK to agree to disagree. But according to the Bible, that doesn’t work. We can disagree when it comes to things that aren’t in the Bible. Maybe we have differences on what color paint the walls should be, or whether the blinds should be opened or closed. Then, sure, we disagree.
But what about those important things that ARE in the Bible? Doctrinal things? Things that are either morally right, or morally wrong? Things that are either true about Christ, or not true? Those are things that God wants us to be united on.
Today we are going to ponder the concept of unity. We’re going to look at a quick snapshot of unity. We’re going to see how God makes unity happen. And we’re going to look at the wonderful results of unity.
We find the subject of unity covered in Ephesians 4. In verse one, Paul writes, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Paul wrote this letter while he was a prisoner in Rome. Even though he had his own problems to think about, he was concerned about the church in Ephesus. He had started that church some time ago, and now, in prison, he wrote them this letter of encouragement. He wanted them to live lives worthy of the calling they had received. And then he wanted them to be united. Here’s what unity looks like…
Verse 2: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” That’s what a unity. Verse 3: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” He wanted them to experience peace and oneness. Look at verse 4: “There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to one hope when you were called. - one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” That’s unity – a group of people who bear with each other in love, a group of people where there is one hope, one faith, and Lord and Savior.
Every church in the world wants to have that kind of unity. But not every church knows how to get there. So many different kinds of people come into the church – different backgrounds, different personalities, different ideas. How do you unite these people? Drinking coffee together is good. Talking to each other before and after the service is good. Having a cookout in a few weeks is good. Those things help us get to know each other better. But those things don’t create true unity. Something deeper needs to be done.
Many churches believe that if you just downplay your religious differences, you’ll be united. This is called the ecumenical movement – as long as you believe in God, and that he is good, and that Jesus is good too – just put aside the rest of your differences and then we can be united. All those other things in God’s Word – we can agree to disagree – that’s OK. That’s the ecumenical movement.