7 Steps to Unity
Snap shots of a church 4
An image of a unity in the church
For the church to examine itself and see where it needs to improve
Unity Through Humility
7 steps to unity
Last week unity with disunity coming from the outside
This week unity with disunity coming from the inside
When a church is strong, it is always full of vision and planning, and it is always working out a strategy to carry forth the gospel.
A strong church launches ministry after ministry and program after program. It is never still and never complacent—neither the minds of the people nor the hands of the people. Because of this, there is always the danger of differences of opinion: differences in vision, desires, concern, emphasis, and interest. There are always different ideas as to which ministry or project should be undertaken and supported and a host of other differences.
The point is this: the more strength and activity a church has, the more attention it must give to unity. Why? Because a strong church has more minds and bodies working, and where more people are working more differences are bound to arise.
Consequently, the members must give more attention to unity.
Paul knew this; he knew that he had to put the Philippian church on guard. The church had to protect itself against disunity and division
The first step to unity is Christ—allowing His life to be lived out in us. In particular there are seven traits that will hold the church together and keep it unified.
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ
Christ wants no murmuring, no grumbling, disturbance, or weakening of the unity within the church. The Spirit of Christ is to take the disturbed or upset person and...
be just like Christ: console, comfort, encourage, exhort, and strengthen each other.
"My Favorite Martian" was a popular old television program that featured an unusual fellow who could sense incoming signals around him.
You see, he was equipped with a set of antennae.
God has equipped His people with a similar device: spiritual antennae that can pick up signals from the Lord, directing them to other Christians who need encouragement.
What a miracle it is that we often receive a signal, a prompting from the Lord, that burdens us to encourage and minister...
- to the sick and dying
- to the poor and needy
- to the brokenhearted and backslidden
- to the unsaved and lost
- to the lonely and empty
- to the orphan and widow
we are not only to help those who are disturbed,
we are to let the comfort and encouragement of Christ flow in us when we are disturbed.
When disturbed, we are to let Christ comfort us;
and when others are disturbed, we are to comfort them.
Just imagine the spirit of unity that would flow through a church if all the members would let the consolation of Christ flow through them. There would be no murmuring, grumbling, disturbance—no disunity whatsoever.
if any comfort from his love,
2. Love: there is the image of love. The love of Christ stirs a person to keep the unity with other believers. The word "love" is agapē love, the love that is selfless and sacrificial
that it loves a person even if he does not deserve to be loved
that actually loves the person who is utterly unworthy of being loved.
Agapē love is the love of Christ, the love which He showed when He gave and sacrificed Himself for us. We did not deserve it and were utterly unworthy of such love, yet Christ loved us despite all.
Imagine the spirit of unity that would exist within a church if every member would let the love of Christ flow through him.
There would be no bitterness, anger, or strife—no action that would hurt another person whatsoever
if any fellowship with the Spirit,
3. Holy Spirit, Fellowship: there is the image of fellowship in the Spirit. Once a person has trusted Jesus Christ as his Lord, God's Spirit does two significant things to him.
The Holy Spirit enters the believer's heart and life to comfort, guide, teach, equip, and use him as a witness for Christ.
The Holy Spirit creates a spiritual union between the new believer and other believers.
He attaches all their lives together, and they become one in life and purpose. They have a joint life sharing their blessings and needs and gifts together—all focused upon their Lord and His purpose.
The mind of the Holy Spirt is set upon unity and fellowship—all centered around Jesus Christ and His mission.
The church and its believers are to have the same mind.
There are to be no discordant elements whatsoever in the church: no talk about differences; no sharing of bad news; no gossip, rumors, cliques, nothing whatsoever that would tamper with or disturb the fellowship of the Spirit in the church. Again, quickly glance at Phil. 2:2:
if any tenderness and compassion,
4. Compassion: there is the image of compassion. Compassion is the trait that stirred Christ to reach out for us.
even if we are in rebellion and stand opposed to Him
If we allowed His compassion to flow through us, can you not see what would happen in the church? What would happen if we were driven by compassion to go after those...
who have been hurt?
who have been disturbed?
who were critical?
The list could go on and on. But just think how many would have already been reconciled back into the fellowship of the church if we had been compassionate and gone after them.
Just think how much less trouble would have happened if we had reached out in compassion when a difference first appeared.
The point is this: we are to let the compassion of Christ flow both in and through us. His compassion will comfort us when we differ and are disturbed; it will stir us to reach out in compassion when others differ and become disturbed. The compassion of Jesus Christ flowing in and through us keeps the unity of the church. It will also keep our minds together—keep them focused upon the needs of a world that must be reached and ministered to in compassion.
2 then make my joy complete
by being like-minded,
having the same love,
being one in spirit and purpose.
5. Joy: there is the image of joy. The believers in a church are to be concerned for each other's joy. And note: the one thing that brings joy to a church quicker than anything else is unity.
Joy is always disturbed when there is criticism,
opposition, and a host of other divisive negatives.
We are to worship, plan, organize, program, build, staff, finance, minister, and serve in the joy of Christ.
But the only way we can do that is...
to be likeminded.
to have the same love.
to be of one accord.
to be of one mind.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit,
but in humility consider others better than yourselves.
6. Humility— Lowliness of Mind: there is the image of humility or lowliness of mind. Note two significant points.
1. A strong and active church will always have two problems to stick their ugly heads up: strife and empty glory.
a. Some people are just going to strive with others. They are not mature in the Lord, not yet; therefore, they give in to...
| talking about differences jealousy envy loving flattery|| desire for position desire for recognition opposition forming cliques|
If they do not get their way or what they want, they strive against the church or other members. The result is disunity and divisiveness, one of the most terrible crimes within the church to God.
b. Some people are going to seek glory within the church. But note what Scripture calls it: vainglory, which means empty glory. Some people just want the attention, the recognition, the position, the flattery, the praise, the honor. They want people seeking their advice and counsel and opinion. They want to be on the major committees and acknowledged as a leader of the church.
2. The spirit that must prevail in a strong church is that of humility or lowliness of mind. In fact, the only way a church can remain strong and be blessed by God is for its people to walk in a spirit of humility
4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests,
but also to the interests of others.
7. (2:4 Interest of others: there is the image of controlling self-interest or what Barclay calls concentration on self (The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, p.40). Very simply, a Christian believer must forget himself. He must quit looking upon his own things, his...
| ambition desires position not being recognized not being honored wants|| being neglected being overlooked being by-passed being ignored not being given the position|
Believers are to concentrate upon Christ and His ministry to people and reaching the world with the glorious gospel of salvation. They are not be focused upon self. The world is too needful and too desperate for any believer to be focused upon himself. Every believer is needed to reach the lost and lonely, the shut-ins and helpless, the hungry and cold, the sinful and doomed of his community and city, country and world. Every believer does not need to be thinking on his own things, but on the things of others. He needs to be out...
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