Make Every Effort

Blog – 3-9-16
Unity

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Last Sunday I spoke at a church that is in a state of transition. They are currently searching for a new pastor, which can be a tough time for a church. Because of that, I reached out to them to see if there were any specific concerns in the congregation that would be good for me to address in my talk. The church secretary quickly mentioned one simple word…unity.

As I contemplated that word and spent time in prayer about it, I realized how important unity is in all of our lives. Whether it’s unity at our church, unity in our workplace, or unity in our homes, unity is something that provides peace and comfort when we have it and feelings of unease when we don’t have it. We all simply function better when we live in harmony with those around us. It’s way better than the alternative, living in discord and disarray.

When I looked up the word unity in my Bible app, it immediately took me to Ephesians 4.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 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.
Ephesians 4:2-6

As I studied the chapter, three things jumped out at me:

1. We have to work at unity.  It says we have to make “every effort” to live in unity and peace. It isn’t something that comes naturally for us because we all have different opinions and ideas. Unity is something we have to choose to go after. So many times it feels easier to be contentious and divisive because we want to be right and we all operate with different motivations and concerns. But Paul in his letter to the Ephesians specifically asks them to work at it, to reach for the same objective, and don’t settle for disharmony and division.

2.  Focus on what unites – not on what divides! The thing that unites all of us who call ourselves Christians is something very simple – Christ! What Jesus did on the cross and the salvation and grace we all receive because of that is where we need to focus. Ultimately heaven is our destination, right, so we can establish at the outset that we all have the same destination in mind. Our next goal should be to bring as many other people with us as we can! It’s really pretty simple – Love God, love others.

As I travel to different churches and denominations, unfortunately I see a lot of what divides us. One church believes this, one church believes that, and it’s funny how the minute details of what we believe can tear us apart. Even more troubling, however, is how the differences of opinions within the same church can completely divide congregations. If we kept it simple and focused on what unites us, Christ, I believe things would go much better for us as a church.

3.  Celebrate our different gifts! Each of us has different God-given strengths. I can’t do what you can do, and you can’t do what I can do. God calls each of us to do what we can individually do for His service and for His glory. The gifts we are blessed with (and we ALL have them!) are given so we can build up the church and glorify God.

Ephesians 4 says in verses 11-13, “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”

Together we are stronger.
Click to Tweet: Together we are stronger.

Together we are better than we are on our own.
Click to Tweet: Together we are better than we are on our own.

Together we can show God’s love to a broken world.
Click to Tweet: Together we can show God’s love to a broken world.

Psalm 133 says, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”

Amen to that!

Hugs and love,

~Jill

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