Category: Unity

Unity in the Body for Fruitful Mission

“I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:23).

On the night Jesus was betrayed, just before He embarked on His passion, Jesus prayed to His Father for the unity of all believers, those for whom He would die, giving them spiritual life (John 17:20-23). It is interesting to note that as Jesus prays for unity, He also prays for the clear message of salvation, found only in the truth of Scripture. Jesus says, “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). Connecting these thoughts, we see a unique distinctive of Christians. Christians are set apart by God to grow together, as they trust in the truth of Sacred Scripture.

When an individual first believes, the Holy Spirit enters the new-found believer, placing them in union with the risen Lord, fulfilling His promise, “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one” (John 17:23). Inclusive to God’s salvation is an empowerment to believe Biblical truth that unifies us as body members, together in Him (1 Corinthians 12:12). So, how does unity impact our living?  Unity impacts many aspects of the Christian life. One such way is on mission.

It is true that Christ saved us separately, but He did not save us to be separate. A singular Christian can go on mission sharing the gospel. The work will be hard. In time, the weight of discouragement becomes too great and He or she quits. Things are simply too tough to go on.

However, many believers coming together are an “army on the ground” for the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Their work will be hard but the encouragement of fellow-workers is sweet as they strive on mission together. One of the great joys of ministry is the joy of working together, shoulder to shoulder, as a gospel witness, making disciples and loving neighbor.

As believers mature in Christ, they intrinsically love Him more. As believers work together, His love flows through them, developing a greater and greater love for each other. The love of the one-another’s striving together will never be in vain because the focus will not be on the strain of labor but on the expectancy of God receiving the Glory. How does that look? Jesus said it this way, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

One candle pierces the darkness. Many candles push darkness away. However, the light Jesus speaks of is no simple candle. His light, inherent only to Him, destroys darkness. It can never be snuffed out. Think about it – As Christians, we are to bear witness or “reflect” the light of Gospel truth into the falsehood of a dark world. Herein unity steps forward to give us the jolt, just when we need it. As we share His truth, making disciples and loving neighbor together.

  • Selby Brannon
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Does Unity Mean We Never Disagree?

David writes in Psalm 139:14 – “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Is it not implied in our wonderfully-made-ness that we are therefore not clones of each other, but unique and special? And if we are unique and special (and yes, you are!), then does it not also follow that we will not always see things the same way. We are wonderfully different, and fearfully designed by God with a blueprint that is unlike anyone else’s. If you’re with me so far, then that can’t mean whenever we disagree we are not walking in unity, but simply expressing our different-ness. So how does this work?

Unity is Deeper than Disagreement

 I wish I knew more of the back story with Paul and Barnabas disagreeing over including John Mark on their missionary trip (Acts 15:36-41). It appears that Barnabas saw potential in John Mark and was willing to take a chance on him (like he had on Saul of Tarsus), but Paul thought this was a really bad idea. Apparently, John Mark had bailed out on them previously in the midst of ministry labors. Paul and Barnabas didn’t see eye to eye on their observations about John Mark, nor on a decision to include him in their ministry team. So they lovingly agreed to go different ways with different teams. Was this disunity? I don’t think so. Paul and Barnabas get to be different and have different opinions about people and problems. What we do know is that they were both committed to the mission of the Gospel and as a result of this disagreement, God multiplied the number of workers sent out for the building up of the churches. They remained steadfast and unified on the mission even as they disagreed on some of the details, because unity runs deeper than human differences and even disagreements.

We should always be quick to listen and slow to speak, inviting the observations of other trusted friends and counselors, but uniformity and blind allegiance is not what unity is about. Unity is about the love of Jesus that has been poured out on needy sinners. Holding fast to that will preserve the unity even in the face of humble, loving disagreement.

  • Mark Spansel

Gospel Unity

Paul writes to his friends in Philippi “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Any community will hold up unity as a pleasant idea but mostly in a superficial and sentimental way. How do you see that expressed in our culture? Paul isn’t satisfied with that type of unity. Where’s the enemy of unity? Is it outside the church? Is the enemy somewhere outside of us or perhaps it’s much closer? Paul’s words from Philippians seems to say it’s actually found within our hearts.

What differentiates Gospel unity from the general kind that always seems to be outside society’s reach? The “encouragement” Paul finds in Gospel unity is grounded in our relationship to the Trinity. Our unity is not found in who we are or what we do but in who He is and what He has done. It is found in sinners made righteouse as they are found in Christ. As each of us becomes more and more aware of how much we have been forgiven and the greatness of the grace by which we have been accepted as sons we come into deeper relationship within the family of God. Just after Paul’s words quoted above he goes on to say of Christ, “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Our unity, Gospel unity is found at the foot of the cross. I’ve not died for unity but Christ has and He didn’t do that so anyone would bow to me but only to the one that “God has highly exalted…. so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth.” Our heart level sin of selfish ambition, conceit and pride, the sins that kill unity were crucified with Christ on the cross and now by grace are being replaced with humility, and an ability to count others as more significant. Gospel unity says I now have nothing to defend, nothing to do but show my friends in Christ the same grace I have been shown and lift up Christ and his work in our salvation.

  • David Ortiz

Looking to the Future – Worshipping Together

Psalm: 133 begins “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” The Hebrew word for unity speaks to a group of people who are together. 

At our most recent congregational meeting, Pastor Mark spoke to the desire of the elders to move toward a one worship service vision. This vision is cast as we move forward in our building campaign that includes a larger sanctuary. Currently, we have two services to accommodate all the people who call Leroy Community Chapel their church.

The reasons to choose one service time or another aren’t necessarily wrong: some are parents who bring their youth to 90@9 or Kingdom Kids and, by default, worship during the first service then continue on with their day. Others serve during the first hour and later join in worship with those who prefer the later service. But when we are split between two services, it means that all of Leroy is rarely together, rarely unified as a people who are together. So, there is a sense that LCC is two congregations who worship in the same building, on the same day, but at different times. Two groups hear the same message and sing the same worship songs but they are not in complete unity because they are not together, missing full fellowship and ministering to one another.

As elders, we want all who call Leroy “home” to be unified together in a common worship service. And our intent does not stop with an all-togetherness; rather, it goes much deeper than that. We want to have a second Sunday morning teaching time that focuses on the family. One where children meet with their age group in the new classrooms specially designed for them and the youth meet for their time of further study and worship. We also want Mom and Dad to meet, learn, and grow with other adults of like precious faith. Yes, there is a teacher who teaches, but much of the learning occurs when others in the class speak into how the Word of God addresses their 21st century world.

We also recognize that some of you attend alone, without a family in the area. You may be a single young professional beginning a career, divorced, or a widow or widower. At LCC, you will not be left out. There is room for you here.

If you are not already doing so, start making plans to spend a couple hours on a Sunday morning with us for corporate worship, learning, singing, praising, and fellowshipping together as the people of God.

  • Selby Brannon

The Fruit of Unity

Have you ever been part of an organization that introduced a mission statement to promote unity of mission only to find a year later not much has changed? Sadly, I have yet to see a business group or even a church change with just the most well-crafted mission statement.

In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul writes quite a bit on unity. He calls us to walk in humility, gentleness, patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit. He describes later in v11-13 church leaders that would be used to build up others until we all attain unity in the faith. The problem most groups and sadly even some churches face with unity is often rooted in our self-centeredness. This stands in opposition to the picture Paul paints of humility and deferring to the needs of others while building people up in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In John 13:34-35 and 17:20-23 Jesus calls His followers to unity. Surprisingly, the result he cites is not what we might expect. “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” The result he cites is a church that through Biblical unity actually displays the love of Christ to a world in need of the Gospel message.

Jesus, help me to walk humbly, eager to love my brothers and sisters, so that in your church your love might be displayed to a world in need.

  • Steve Selle

Unified Mess

I sat in a group of pastors this morning as I have numerous times before; praying for unity and revival.  We talked about various church matters.  We fought off the urge to compete or brag about our church.  Some argued in a Christianese.  I’m sure your experience in a group of friends is similar; we know we are friends, but all the oddness of our differences and sin make feel-good life illusive.  Inevitably someone breaks the “I’ve got it all together” ice and lets others see the ugly.  For some, the discomfort of the moment overwhelms and they get defensive and others try to fix it.  Some know the reality of sin, suffering, and being “in process”, and are moved with compassion and show the stuff of genuine caring.

The bride is a mess and I’m learning to love all of her!

We can easily forget that unity of the church is not rooted in sameness.  To put it bluntly, we don’t like it.  Most of the time we think unity means others will be more like us.  Lord have mercy and grant us much grace of forgiveness.  We are all so different!  And that’s great!  We are not called to be exactly like one another.  No, in fact Peter says that even the many gifts given to the church accentuate our differences to exhibit a varied, or manifold grace (1 Peter 4:7-11).  When we take a wider view, we see a kind of multifaceted love functioning in and through the bride that glorifies the greatness of the one true God.  What a beautiful mess!

Also, fighting my self-righteousness, I need to be reminded that the unity of the church is not rooted in a gathering of sinless people.  We are a hot mess of forgiven sinners in process.  Sounds obvious, right?  Then why am I surprised when people sin greatly? Friends, Peter tells us that the bride will require a truck load of love and forgiveness supplied by a singular source: the cross of Christ.  And once again, Jesus unifies a band of sinners into a glorious worldwide display of his greatness!

Welcome to the unified mess called the church.

  • Pastor Jeff