If you want to see a lack of unity, mention a political party. Or a sports team. In the world, diversity is acclaimed and applauded. It also causes plenty of arguments.
Church should be different.
Notice, it should be a place where diverse people agree on important truths. Church is about worshiping God and being part of a family.
Even in a family, unity can be a myth. For example, my husband and I agree on most things. Then election time comes around, and in the early primaries, we rarely vote together. Sometimes our votes on ballot measures cancel each other out. Even two people who have become one flesh have trouble being unified.
Is it any wonder church members struggle with unity?
In the broadest sense, there are three major reasons why unity is difficult to attain – even at church: selfishness, impurity and a lack of love.
If you’ve been in one church long enough, you’ve established a routine. You like how a certain person leads songs or plays the piano. The same person has been greeting at the door for years.
And it should stay that way.
New members come along. They would like to add more instruments to the worship service. Perhaps one is gifted in the area of friendliness and desires to become a greeter.
And suddenly there’s tension when it’s time to decide who will be in charge of worship or welcoming visitors at the back door.
Maybe there’s a “pet program” or the feeling of traditional worship that spurs debate.
In any case, if individuals in the congregations didn’t have their own agenda – things should be done this way, I will always be song leader, etc. – moving toward small changes wouldn’t cause any issues.
I can almost hear some of you thinking, “If those people would just live right, we could have unity at church.”
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
This verse isn’t talking about people who don’t know Christ. We don’t become sinless once we have Christ as our Savior.
We will have the sin nature until we die. And it will be a constant battle to keep it under control.
One person’s impure actions cause those who consider themselves “more spiritual” to begin judging. And the condemning attitude throws a monkey wrench in the whole unity mechanism.
Am I saying we should allow open and blatant sin to run rampant in church? Of course not. However, there is a Biblical way to deal with it.
Looking down your nose at the one who’s fallen is NOT it.
No one in church is above sin. God is not a respecter of persons and neither should those who claim his name be (James 2:9).
Lack of Love
“Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10).
When our love for other members of the church wanes or waxes cold, the camaraderie in the congregation dissipates.
I’m not talking about the easy, “I love you” hugs and handshakes given on Sunday morning followed by a week of thoughtlessness.
Real love works. And it works hard. People see its evidence.
Has your love gone cold? Read this checklist:
- Love would rather overlook a fault than bring it up (Proverbs 10:12)
- Love says others’ ideas, needs and comfort is more important than our own (Romans 12:10)
- Love doesn’t hold a grudge (1 John 4:20)
- Love focuses on the positive (1 Corinthians 13:7)
Did you have to justify your thoughts or actions while reading any ONE of these items? If so, you’re love is waning, my friend. Time to plug into the source of love (God) and get recharged.
Unity in church isn’t impossible. For the next two months, we’ll take a deeper look as what scripture says about this subject.
Unity among members of the same church is imperative. If the church is ever to impact the world around us, they must see a unity in us that is seen nowhere else.
As usual, growing in the spirit starts with prayer. In this case, it was the Lord’s prayer that started it all.
Next week: Jesus Prayed for Unity