Pumpkins are being replaced with turkeys now that November is upon us. Before we know it, we will be sitting down with our loved ones for Thanksgiving, and Christmas will come too soon. Time is moving faster than ever and the New Year really isn’t far off, which is sure to bring big change. I can feel it.
This time of year brings a certain unity, and unity is something that has been heavy on my mind. In fact, it must be on a lot of people’s. Just today my pastor spoke on it. I thought it only fitting, then, to blog about it.
The Church Has Lost Its Purpose
I think the church has gotten so scattered in recent years, or perhaps even decades. We don’t know how to focus anymore. There are so many different directions churches are heading, and Christians, as well as organized religion, are being pressured into tolerance.
Tolerance isn’t all bad, if it’s good.
But we are tolerating the wrong things.
What we aren’t tolerating is other Believers. We have this so wrong, so let’s take a minute to get it right. This blog comes on the heels of lots of intensive, personal prayer. Before I can teach about it, or take a proactive step, I must understand where I fail personally. Before I can begin to understand where I fail, I must have conviction.
How to Build Unity in the Church
In the natural world, unity is natural. This is visible in many species that visually ebb and flow together in total harmony and ease. You can see it in flocks of birds in flight, in schools of fish, in swarms of insects. They move together in one motion, fluidly. In fact, for birds there is a scientific term for this, murmuration. There cells, their brains, are connected.
If you were to peel back the ground of the forest to see what lies beneath, you would see the trees are all one, with their roots intertwining and connected. That is why when one gets disease, all are affected. What happens to one happens to all.
Unity within the Body is a very, very difficult thing, and not easily simplified. There are so many things to disagree on. In fact, put me in a fellowship, and get me alone with one person. If we sit down and begin a conversation about theology, religion, our personal beliefs and values, we will eventually at some point disagree. Send the person away, and bring someone to sit in his place. We sit down and begin a conversation, and eventually we will find something to disagree over. And so it will go with each person in the room. Not only will they disagree with me on something, but they will disagree with each other. Do the math. That’s a lot of disagreeing.
Finding a way forward is essential.
Firstly, we must not take our difference of opinions personal. Secondly, chance are not one of our differences will probably be salvation issues. In other words, if I believe Jesus is returning before the Rapture, and you believe there isn’t even a Rapture, our salvation isn’t dependent on either of these views.
What the Bible does tell us to do, how it tells us to love one another (this is an action word more than a noun describing a mood or deep affection) is to stimulate one another to good deeds! We are made for good works! Keep in mind, however, we are not saved by them.
Stimulate One Another
We are to be a holy people set apart for good works, to stimulate one another, to drive each other on, and to build the body up. I need to know you so intimately, as my brother or sister in faith, that I know your strengths, your talents, your gifts, and encourage you to use them. We are a package deal, in the church. We are the Body, each having a separate function and purpose. I need you, and you need me.
If focusing on our differences disjoints us, let’s not do it. I’m not advocating we stop learning, sharing, teaching why we believe as we do, but we should stop expecting, pressuring and judging those that might not be as far down the road as we are. It’s a journey of discovery, and God never demands that the instant we make a conscience decision to live a life separated unto God that we must instantly have all the answers.
Part of the problem is that we have lost sight of the purpose of fellowship. The purpose of corporate worship is to fix our eyes on the Author and Perfecter of our faith together, to bring unity. We aren’t on the journey alone. We can support, and lift each other up, and help carry one another’s burdens. We are to train each other up and spur each other on. We are to strengthen and sharpen one another in one accord, under the headship of Jesus!
What a wonderful privilege! It’s hard work, to be sure. Dying to myself is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, and it’s constant work. But it’s a privilege. When I take a breather to remember that this side of heaven has nothing to do with happiness, happiness comes in the next life, that here I am striving for holiness and unity, then I see my target, get refocused, and I dig my heels down deep and stand firm. I pray that you will stand beside me, doing the same. Because, we are essentially made like the trees and the birds, and we are connected, not through roots or through living cells, we are a spiritual house, a spiritual, living, organic being. What I do to you, I do to me. To love you is to love myself.
Written by Jori Sams
Jori Sams is a Christian author and freelance writer with nearly 2000 published pieces on the Internet, with over 1500 being published by Yahoo. Her books are published through Writeious Books. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her following the sun…