“By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one for another.” John 13:35 In local churches and on mission fields a major problem is disunity among Christians. There is nothing that destroys a church’s testimony and effectiveness in reaching the lost and building up saints like disunity. Next to living and preaching the Truth, maintaining the unity of his church family is the main burden of a godly pastor.
Often that disunity is fomented by some “Diotrephes, who loving to have preeminence,” (III John 9-10) freezes out of the fellowship those who do not fall into line under his or her usurped leadership. Such churches seldom grow and are pathetic examples of what Christ meant His church to be.
In the light of what Christ has done for us, it is a shame and a disgrace for Christians to not endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit. Christ prayed for us in the Upper Room just before His crucifixion. His concern was “that we all would be one as Christ is one with His Heavenly Father.” John 17:21. That’s not the oneness of organization, but the oneness of an organism, the supernatural oneness of the Body of Christ. Not only does He pray for us, but He gives us the Gift of His Holy Spirit to unite us as one Body. That is the baptism of the Spirit spoken of in I Corinthians 12:13.
Understand that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is not an emotional experience to be sought and flaunted before the Church. Rather the baptism of the Spirit is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit whereby He unites us to the worldwide Body of Christ. Immediately a new Christian is aware that he is now a part of the family of God and he longs to be united and involved in fellowship, worship and service in a local expression of that Body.
For Christians to remain in a state of disunity is an abomination in the sight of God, as taught in Proverbs 6:16-18
Paul shows his concern for the possibility of disunity in the Philippians Church. This concern is seen throughout this Epistle in 1:5-19, 27. 4:1-2
The number one rule of church leadership according to I Peter 5:3 is to avoid attempting to lord it over others. Rather, pastors, elders, deacons and others in leadership positions are to lead by being examples of what a Christian ought to be and being encouragers with servant hearts.
Attempting to keep the unity of the Holy Spirit is a major concern for every church that is seeking to serve the Lord. The greater the zeal and enthusiasm, the greater the danger of disunity as we collide with one another in our efforts to serve Christ. Only as each member is filled and directed by the Holy Spirit, can we all work amiably together without ruffling feathers.
Disunity takes place when we allow Satan to make us feel miffed because things do not always go as we plan.
True unity is more than just being members in the same church. It is more than doctrinal agreement, though doctrinally agreement is very important. True unity is unity of heart and purpose.
Unlike the unity of a bag of marbles that can be destroyed by cutting the bag, our unity must be like that of metal filings united together by a magnet. If Christ is the magnet of our life and of our church, that produces the true unity that enables us to work together with one heart and purpose.
Because a spiritually united church cannot be stopped in its progress by Satan, it is essential that each of us endeavor to keep and protect the unity that the Holy Spirit has given us. That’s why Paul emphasizes our responsibility to endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in Ephesians 4:3 and in other passages in I Corinthians 12 and 14.
Paul’s approach to the Philippian Church in Philippians 2:1-2 concerning the need to keep this unity is not threatening: rather, it is a three-fold approach of a loving pastor and his church family to do what is right
1. for Christ’s sake,
2. because of the unity that the Holy Spirit has already made available to us, and
3. because of our love for our pastor and our church.
United, nothing can stop us as we move forward in our assault against Satan’s strongholds. Divided, we are paralyzed and powerless to do any more than just “play church”.
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