Cultivating a Movement: Preserve Unity!

I’m near the midpoint of a series of messages on Cultivating a Movement (see Surrender, Rely on God’s Power, Pursue Holiness, and Scatter Seeds).

One thing churches must also do is preserve unity!

Sadly, churches can be notorious for their lack of unity. When this is the case, the church develops a bad reputation in a community. So, it’s important for churches to preserve and protect unity!

The church can be known for a lot of things, some good, some bad. When people in a church are growing in Christ and serving the world, they are known for what’s good. The church is at its best when everyone is growing and serving!

The Apostle Paul wrote a lot about church unity. He often referred to the church as the body of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 12, he wrote …

Christ is just like the human body—a body is a unit and has many parts; and all the parts of the body are one body, even though there are many. We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body, whether Jew or Greek, or slave or free, and we all were given one Spirit to drink. Certainly the body isn’t one part but many. … If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part gets the glory, all the parts celebrate with it. You are the body of Christ and parts of each other. (1 Corinthians 12.12-14, 26-27, CEB)

On a similar note, Paul wrote in Romans 12 …

We have many parts in one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function. In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other. We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us. (Romans 12.4-6a)

Paul’s words in Ephesians are also important. Midway through the letter, Paul challenges readers “to live as people worthy of the call you received from God” (Ephesians 4.1). Acknowledging that unity doesn’t happen automatically, he says, “make an effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit” (4.3).

To help the church preserve unity, God supplies what the church needs. “God has given his grace to each one of us measured out by the gift that is given by Christ” (4.7). Specifically, “He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers” (4.11), that is, church leaders.

God’s purpose …

was to equip God’s people for the work of serving and building up the body of Christ until we all reach the unity of faith and knowledge of God’s Son. God’s goal is for us to become mature adults—to be fully grown, measured by the standard of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4.12-14)

God put leaders in place so that the body of Christ could grow and be equipped to serve. The church is at its best when everyone is growing and serving!

Paul encourages …

let’s grow in every way into Christ, who is the head. The whole body grows from him, as it is joined and held together by all the supporting ligaments. The body makes itself grow in that it builds itself up with love as each one does its part. (Ephesians 4.15-16)

What would it look like if each one did its part, if every follower of Jesus in the church was growing in Christ and serving the world? That is God’s goal. It should be our goal, too.

The church is at its best when everyone is growing and serving!

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