Written by: Jody Mugford
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the concept of unity among Christians. If you’ve listened to a handful of sermons, you’ve probably heard some teaching on how God wants us to be unified as a church, a body of believers representing Jesus. But what does that mean? What does it look like in our daily lives? This has got the wheels in my head turning…
Let’s look back to Genesis 11, to the story of the Tower of Babel. The people came together and decided they would build a tower that reaches the heavens, to make a name for themselves. God saw what they were doing and said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them” (Genesis 11:6). So He intervened by confusing their languages so they couldn’t understand each other, thus incapable of accomplishing what they had set out to do. Granted, the people’s intentions were not honourable, but even God acknowledged the power of their unity. He said Himself that they would be able to succeed in anything they decided to do, when they decided to do it together. How much more can WE, as believers, accomplish when we join in unity?
Throughout my life, I’ve heard many conversations about the need to be unified but we often don’t know what to do next. It’s unlikely we will all agree on every theological detail or that we will have the same opinions about various ministries. So how are we to be unified?
There is one thing that we can be undeniably unified about, across all churches and denominations, and that is the need to show Jesus to a lost world.
“I in them and You in Me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me. John 17:23
When we are functioning in unity with one another, the world will see Jesus. When we are not living as a unified body, this presents a confusing Jesus. We may say with our words that Jesus loves and saves, heals and restores, but if all the world sees are Christians arguing with each other, intolerant of differences, and hopeless under the stresses of life, this behaviour will speak much louder. So what can we do? Take some time to read Romans 12. You will find much of the answer there!
“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” Romans 12:16
Living in harmony is a great concept. Harmony means to be in agreement with one another and to join different components together to create something even better, such as a musical chord. In a chord, the notes are different but when played in unison they make a beautiful sound. When we look at the common goal of showing God’s love to the world, we cannot forget Paul’s teaching on the body of Christ (Romans 12:4-8), and how we are not the same but all part of one body. We do not have the same functions but we work together, using the gifts we have been given, to the show the world who Jesus really is.
“So Christ Himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip His 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.” Ephesians 4:11-13
We may feel the urge to exclude our responsibility from this verse because we are not pastors. We may not be pastors of a church but we are certainly evangelists and teachers for Christ. And as such, we should be looking for ways to encourage each other to use our gifts. Some are great musicians, so let’s be intentional to give them opportunities to use their musical talent to minister to others. Some are great conversationalists and can make anyone feel welcome and loved. Let’s give them opportunities to chat and connect with people! Some love to bake and it does their heart good to whip up something delicious for a person in need of care. Some love to fix things and take care of those that may have repairs they can’t afford. Some are great administrators and would flourish if left in charge of organizing an event for the community. Friends, let’s start to get creative. How do you and your brothers and sisters in Christ want to show Jesus to others? When you think of showing love to another, what are the ideas that come to your mind? They are probably different from someone else’s ideas because they stem from your own passions and how you would serve others best. Let’s start creating opportunities where we can all minister in the ways God has equipped us. Not everyone fits the same mould, and thank God we don’t!
The opportunities are endless and I’m getting excited just writing about it! So here’s my challenge, for you and for myself. Take some time today to think and pray about the gifts and abilities God has given you. Do not downplay yourself, friends. You have much to offer in the body of Christ and to those around you. Also, take some time to think about the gifts God has given those around you. There is probably quite a variety and you can rest assured that God has designed it that way intentionally to meet the needs of your community. Start asking the Holy Spirit to show you ways that you can use your abilities to minister to others and how you can encourage your brothers and sisters to do the same. Be prepared! God will likely give you amazing ideas you wouldn’t have thought of yourself. Lastly, when He speaks to you…obey. Have faith and step out. He’s with you, friend.
I believe that having eyes to see each other’s gifts and a servant’s heart to reach those in need will help immensely to unify our church. That unity will break down walls of hurt and isolation and it will allow us to show Jesus to the world, the true Jesus.
Love and blessings,