We Are Only Amazing, Together [Plea for Unity]

“That’s how it is with us. There are many of us, but we each are part of the body of Christ, as well as part of one another.”

Romans 12:5, CEV

When we follow Jesus, we will not make any real progress unless we commit to following him together.  We must grow to the wonderful, purposeful point when we start to understand that our essential unity is the work of God in our hearts.  He purposefully blends us–our spirits, personality and thoughts.

We learn we can’t make it alone.  I am an American Christian, and independence is a characteristic of my culture.  We inherently become people who ride hard and ride alone.  There seems like there is not room for two where I am going.  If you get there, I guess we’ll be brothers. But this is not the Scriptures.

Having tried to live my faith in another culture, I discovered I needed a different mentality completely.  I had to learn to reach out to another way of thinking.  I discovered that my new understanding had to include others.  If we win, it is because we are a team.   Soccer was the national sport of my new country–I don’t think it has been successful in the U.S. because it’s fundamentally a true team sport. We don’t think like a team. We don’t like it.

 “Above all else, you must live in a way that brings honor to the good news about Christ. Then, whether I visit you or not, I will hear that all of you think alike. I will know that you are working together and that you are struggling side by side to get others to believe the good news.”

Philippians 1:27, CEV

Unity will leave its mark.  If we choose this particular approach we need to “think alike”.  That takes a bit of a miracle sometimes.  But this intrinsic unity has become the norm.  We are very used to the idea of Jesus saving individual men and women.  But it is a long leap for us to believe that we are sanctified through groups–called Churches.

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.”

1 Corinthians 1:10, ESV

No.  Absolutely zero. Divisions.  There is to be agreement in every person.  There is to be a unity, in the very specific area of our thinking and our discernment.  And this is sent to us in Jesus’ name.  Paul understands that the name of Jesus (the Lord and Christ) is to have a definite preeminence, and his wonderful authority was to lead us to this unity.

The implications are this–not agreeing to Jesus’ authority, divides the Church.  Simple.  And that is exactly how we are to understand these issues.  We don’t need to be “rocket-science theologians” here, after all Paul was directing his remarks to simple believers.  He believed that they would understand.

The Holy Spirit is like a magnet. The power that pulls us to Jesus works in us all. We find that iron filings of all shapes and sizes are also ‘connected’ to Him, and we’re connected with each other. It is His magnetism that draws us to  each other.

How committed are you to unity in your town?  The Church gathers on Saturday or Sunday (almost always).  The believers that attend are your brothers and sisters.  They come to worship and pray, and hear the Word.

It is an interesting point that when Paul refers to the Church, and John in the Book of Revelation–it is connected to geography.  It is the “Church of Rome” or the “Church of the Colossians.” Thinking this way, will change how you perceive the Church of Jesus.

“In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity.”

Richard Baxter

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Compatibility for Dummies

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Believers are to learn the skills of compatibility.  The classic definition is “to be able to exist harmoniously.”  The word is used in a dozen different fields, from agriculture to zoology.  But the particular area we are to look at is the “spiritual.”

The Holy Spirit is the prime teacher.  The same Spirit that holds me is holding you as well.  As a result we connect in a way that is profound.  This is all done supernaturally, and it is one of best arguments for the existence of God I know of.  The world is full of discord.  It is fractious and divided.  But believers can walk in harmony and love.

I was just 17 when I enlisted in the Army.  It truly was a learning experience. One of the basic principles is conforming by adaptation.  We all wore the same clothes.  Wore the same boots.  We ate together, and developed military skills together.  We also marched together in both large and small formations, keeping in step as a group.  We did lots and lots of marching, hours and hours a day.  It had a definite purpose.

Compatibility is learned; but it also is supernaturally given.  A piano player may play Mozart, because the gift lies within.  But that same musician must practice.  You could say what they have is both a talent and a skill.  In the very same way, the agreement I have with you is supernaturally easy—and physically hard.  However it is a skill to be learned.  Once we learn to do this, it will become easier and easier.

The essential foundation for this is the “Word of God.”  We can’t walk with a brother who is clearly at odds with the Bible’s teachings.  But we all know that sin is at epidemic levels, and we are all affected.  I suppose “humility” plays a huge part of staying in step with another saint.  The Lord is so gentle with the strugglers, can’t I do the same?

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.”  1 Peter 3:8, ESV

Nevertheless (even with this in mind) we must be committed to the Word—first and foremost.  Everything must proceed from this common point.  Loving someone else will almost always involve servanthood.  Washing someone elses feet will almost always develop compatibility.

In Bible college I had a running feud with a fellow student.  He seemed to me to be incredibly arrogant.  Things came to an ugly head and the animosity was thick.  One day in prayer I heard the Holy Spirit speak.  “Go to your brother and wash his feet.”  I charged into his dorm room and became a servant.  I became connected to him in a profound way.

Being compatible does not mean we all do the same things.  We share the same Spirit but we don’t have the same gifts.  My theory is we are all designed with certain strengths, and proscribed weaknesses.  These make us vulnerable and open to another.  In Nehemiah 4, we read of men who built, and men who guarded.  Both were necessary.

The main issue for us is learning compatibility—and all the skills that enable us to practice unity.  We must understand, we are already connected in an amazing way.  But we must “practice” it.

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”   Phil. 2:3, ESV

 

Photo: The Power of Unity

Photo:  The Power of Unity

When we come together, we receive from a shared strength, common to every believer.  Connected, we are resilient and strong, and it takes a very great deal to incapacitate us.  It seems that we are organically linked as believers, and that there exists a connection through the work and personality of the Holy Spirit.

That’s how it is with us. There are many of us, but we each are part of the body of Christ, as well as part of one another.  (Romans 12:5)

We must grip the reality that each one has a connection to Jesus AND a connection to each other.  It is not necessarily physical, but it is a real spiritual connection, like plugging into the wall socket.