It is very hard to hold everything in common when living in a world of competing interests. This is one of the reasons why it is challenging to find unity in the church. Some want to get rich and “live the good life.” Others insist on promoting their gifts or agenda as the most important pursuit and, if they could, would compel others to follow suit. Some are consumed with entertainment, sports and activities that assuage their passions. Still others cannot live in common with anyone because they are too consumed with questioning motives and finding cause for skepticism and criticism. Yet, if we study the emerging church in Acts, there is cause for hope on how even today we can attain and preserve unity. Here are seven steps that make all the difference:
1. Humility—To be of one heart and mind requires setting aside our pride and our personal agendas for what is best for the team or organization (Eph. 4:2).
2. Gentleness—Proverbs 15:1 teaches “A gentle answer turns away anger, but a harsh word stirs up wrath.” Gentleness brings a calm perspective that allows people to relax. It reduces stress that occurs naturally when we get differing opinions and emotions (Eph. 4:2).
3. Empathy—In Genesis 50 we see that Joseph comforted his eleven brothers over their concern as to how he might treat them when their father died. They were a contentious bunch, but Joseph rose above the need to exact revenge for their earlier mistreatment of him and put on the clothing of understanding to bring unity to his family.
4. Patience—To be patient means we don’t get overly focused or upset about mistakes made. We render grace. We give people time. To be of one heart and mind does not just happen overnight! We avoid hasty decisions and work to allow consensus about major issues (Eph. 4:2).
5. Love—Paul wrote the Colossians in Col. 3:14, “Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity.” To the Galatians he wrote in Gal. 5:13—“For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.” Love brings value—people are important and of worth. Love encourages and edifies and provides the main reason to preserve unity (Eph. 4:2).
6. Peace—The “unity of the Spirit” is kept by peace which binds us (Eph. 4:3). In Col. 3:15, Paul wrote, “And let the peace of the Messiah, to which you were also called in one body, control your hearts. Be thankful.” Peace ensures harmony. It does not allow fighting or dissension to divide the group. By the early Christians not insisting that their possessions were their own, they created peace. They gave up to grow up.
7. Obedience to God’s will—examine history and it is easy to see that conformity to the world brings chaos. When we collectively obey God’s will by listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit we preserve unity. Deuteronomy 28 defines the promised blessings Israel would receive as a unified nation if they obeyed God’s will. When they obeyed Him they prospered.
We see unity in a vast field of flowers of every shape, size and color, free of weeds and attractive; watered and preserved; who open their petals before God and give off a fragrance that inspires praise for the One who made them to proclaim Him!
Where there is unity there is always victory.—Publilius Syrus
©2020 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)