Monday, November 7, 2011

Unity with others comes only through humility. Only by denying ourselves can we see things from another person's point of view.

God has been teaching me much on this subject the past few weeks.

Today I came across this verse in Ephesians 4:1-3:

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, [2] with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, [3] eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
It's amazing to me that many of the struggles in the church during the first century are the same struggles that are seen in the church today. The reason for this is simple, the human heart has not changed and we still struggle greatly with the sin of pride. So, the words of Paul to the Church of Ephesus still ring loud and clear today.

But Paul understood the importance of UNITY in the church, and he understood that unity could only be accomplished through humility. Humility says that even when I'm wronged or feel wronged I will be gentle. Humility says that even when I'm frustrated or feeling disrespected I'll still show patience. Humility says that even when I feel attacked, ignored or dismissed I will still choose to show love. And humility says that even when someone has sinned against me, I will forgive in the same manner in which Christ has forgiven (and continues to forgive) me.

Ephesians 4:4-6 goes on to tell us that there is no easy escape from disunity or division:

[4] There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—[5] one Lord, one faith, one baptism, [6] one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
If we can't find unity in one church, the easiest solution seems to be to walk away and look for it elsewhere, but this is wrong for two reasons. First, There is one body and one Spirit. There may be multiple buildings, but there is one body of Christ, and one church. Therefore any disunity or disorder in one church effects the universal body of Christ. In our self-righteousness, we convince ourselves that we are not to blame for the lack of unity in our churches. It's much easier to point our fingers at the faults of others, and in doing so we convince ourselves that the only way to see real change is to walk away and find unity somewhere else. But this is a very dangerous way of thinking.

Paul Tripp says in his book, What Did You Expect,

"I am persuaded that beneath our struggle with the differences we have with one another is a desire for self-sovereignty and the delusion of self-righteousness. We want to be more in control then we will ever be, and we think we are more righteous than we actually are."
The responsibility of unity is shared by everyone in the body of Christ, because we are all sinners. This is the second reason why we can't fix the problem by simply walking away from it. The appeal behind walking away and finding another church is the false illusion of relief. But the reality behind many church splits is that the problem is not resolved when the people part ways, but is instead intensified. God is sovereign over all things, and therefore its safe for us to assume that God has a purpose for every relationship he has us in. Relationships are one of the greatest tools which God uses to help change our hearts and sanctify us.

If we're honest, we desire for our relationships to be a place of our comfort, ease, and enjoyment; and often times our desires are no bigger or deeper than this. We choose friends that are fun to be around and many times we fail to pursue close relationships with people who are difficult or don't bring us pleasure. But God's purpose is that each of our relationships (which he has sovereignly ordained) would be a tool for something far greater and glorious than our tiny, little, self-focused definition of happiness. He has designed our relationships to be one of his most effective and efficient tools of personal holiness. He has designed our relationships not simply as an environment of our personal happiness, but instead as a way to change our hearts.

God is unwilling to rest and unwilling to leave us to ourselves until every microbe of sin has been eradicated from every cell of our hearts. So, God is continually working to rescue us from ourselves, to deliver us from sin and to form the character of Jesus in us.

I pray that each of us can learn the eternal significance and relevance of each relationship that God currently has us in. Let us never rest in our pursuit of unity and let us acknowledge the significance which humility plays in this entire process.

For His Glory,


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