Living in Unity

Living In Unity by Rev. Shine. P. Thomas

What do you understand by Unity?

What are the Characteristics of a Christian that develops Unity?

The tallest trees in the world are redwood trees in California. Some of them are 300 feet high and more than 2,500 years old. You would think that trees that large would have a tremendous root system, reaching down hundreds of feet into the earth. But that is not the case. Redwoods have a very shallow root system. The roots of these trees are, however, intertwined. They are tied in with each other; interlocked. Thus, when the storms come and the winds blow the redwoods still stand. With an interlocking root system they support and sustain each other. The unity in their root system is the key to their survival. So do we!

Scripture: Ephesians 4:3

We are going to see the characteristics of a Christian that develops unity. We are also going to see how our unity relates to the Godhead unity.

Unity is the state or quality of being one, singleness, harmony, undivided.

Ephesians 4:3 

 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace

The church at Ephesus had a mix of Jewish believers, gentiles, and some newly converted Jews. All used to worship together buy they never had unity in their function and beliefs. Every group did what they felt was good. Therefore, Paul is exhorting the church at Ephesus to live in unity.

How Can We Develop Unity?

Ephesians 4:2 

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Philippians 2:1-4 

 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Characteristics That Develop Unity in a Christian

1. Humility & Gentleness

Ephesians 4:2 

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Humble

To submit to those in authority, to value and place others above yourself. The Bible talks here humility of mind, an attitude that recognizes the worth and value of other people.

Example: The people we tend to like are the people who show us the respect we think we deserve. The ones we do not like are the ones we sense don’t like us. However if we stop looking for respect from others (which is the nature of pride) and start respecting people for their God-given worth (which is the nature of the humility of mind) then we prompt unity & harmony. The result will be since we give them respect they will respond to us with the same respect they’ve received.

Gentle

Miriam Webster describes gentleness or meekness as being deficient in spirit and courage. It is too often understood as weakness. But this is not the meaning for the Greek word used in the Bible. The biblical meaning of gentleness is the image of power under control.

Example: When you think of being meek, think of a wild animal that is tamed for good purpose, think about the rushing waters of a river passing through the turbines of a dam. Instead of running wild, out of control, destroying everything in its path the same water is controlled to make electricity.

Gentleness or meekness is power under control. Such people remain calm and peaceful when surrounded by a heated atmosphere. Instead of losing their cool, instead of blurting our in anger they know to control themselves and use this power to serve others.

See how Jesus describes himself: 

Matthew 11:29 

29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. This is a characteristic of a strong personality.

2. Patience & forbearance

Ephesians 4:2

 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love

 bearing with one another in love.

For unity to develop we need to be patient with one another. Patience and bearing with one another (forbearance) are both the same.

Illustration

As a train started its journey, a father was holding his tiny baby in one of the compartments. The baby became restless and cried more and more. As night approached, unable to take it any longer, an old man spoke for the rest of the group. “Why don’t you stop your baby from crying?” The father said, “I am doing my best sir.” The man continued, “Why don’t you give the baby to its mother, you can’t care for it?” There was a moment’s pause and then the father replied. “I’m sorry. I’m doing my best. The baby’s mother is in her coffin in the luggage wagon ahead.”

There was an awful silence for a moment. Then the man apologized for his impatience and unkind remark. He took the tiny baby in his own arms and told the tired father to get some sleep. Then in loving patience he cared for the little child all through the night.

If unity has to develop in our homes, work places, church we need to be patient with one another.

3. Do not be selfish

Philippians 2:3 

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,

nothing out of selfish ambition

We live in a self-oriented society. When we do something the question we often ask is “how will I benefit from this?” However the church should not be selfish. Our question should not be “how can this benefit me?” but “how can this benefit the Kingdom of God?” President JFK once said “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” We need to stop spending time thinking what God and the church can do for us and spend more time asking God what we can do for Him and his Church.

We see the example of Jesus in 

Philippians 2:5-6 

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

Jesus spent his whole life denying himself, his rights for our sake. He did not use his rights as a God to come out of the cross. We all have been given rights in our homes, offices, and at church.

A true Christian does not use his rights for selfish gains.

Illustration

A married couple in their early 60s was out celebrating their 35th wedding anniversary. Suddenly, a fairy appeared on their table and said, “For being such an exemplary married couple and for being faithful to each other for all this time, I will grant you each a wish.” “Ooh, I want to travel to South Africa with my darling husband,” said the wife. The fairy moved her stick and two air tickets with a 5-stary stay for South Africa appeared in her hands.

Now it was the husband’s turn. He thought for a moment and said, “Well, this is all very romantic, but an opportunity like this only occurs once in a lifetime, so I’m sorry, my love, now I am 62 years old but my wish is to have a wife 30 years younger than me”. The wife and the fairy were deeply disappointed, but a wish is a wish… So the fairy made a circle with her stick and suddenly the husband became 92 years old.

Do not be selfish.

4. Do not live to impress others

Philippians 2:3 

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,


(New Living Translation) 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others&&. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

Vain conceit means living to impress others or having high opinion of one’s own abilities, vain glory.

We want people want to be impressed by our accomplishments and our sacrifices. We want people to be impressed by everything we do. It is the part of our sinful nature – pride. We are so concerned about what others think about us. This attitude slowly creeps into the church. Then slowly we try to impress people by our ministry and involvement in the church. We forget to impress God. They want people to look at them as they are great, holy person, deserving a lot of respect.

Jesus certainly did not live to impress others. 

Philippians 2:7 

rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.

Jesus was God with full glory of God but he never impressed anyone of his godliness or holiness. The devil took Jesus to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the temple and said, “If you are the son of God jump off.” Now, the temple was the place where people gathered for worship, so there were huge crowds. The pinnacle of the temple was very high. If Jesus jumped and survived it would have been a great feat, it would have been impressive. But Jesus did not live to impress others and he voluntarily set it aside.

Do not do things to please others but do things to please your Heavenly Father.

Now, if we need unity at church we need to be humble & gentle, patient & forbearing, not be selfish, and not live to impress others. When we live like this unity develops comes in the house of God because all this can be done only with love.

Worldly & Spiritual Unity

The worldly unity is about a goal, target, cast, religion and people work in unity to reach that goal. They do anything to achieve this unity. The worldly unity is external. Example: Politics. Christian unity is achieved in love, yes love alone.

What is The Basis of Our Unity?

Ephesians 4:4-6 

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Now, there is – these words are added by the translators. It should actually read:
One body One Spirit One hope
One Lord One Faith One Baptism
One God One Father

Our unity derives from the unity of the Godhead body – One God, One Family, & One Spirit.

If we paraphrase this – The church is parts of one body, Jesus Christ. We have one spirit in us, Holy Spirit. We have one hope – Jesus, one faith – Jesus, one baptism – Jesus. One father that is God, & we belong to one family.

Therefore we must realize that our actions can damage the unity of the church. If I do anything against this unity I am attacking the very unity of the Godhead. Therefore the church is supposed to be made up of people who work in unity. The church is not over here for you to do your thing, for me to do my thing, and for someone else to do their thing. The church is one body.

Illustration

Imagine if your arm suddenly decided it did not want to work with your leg. Both want to help you but your arm and foot just could not get along. When the arm goes right the leg goes left. Suddenly we find out that if our arm and leg does not function together it is useless for our body. If your right arm is lifting something and the left arm does not support it saying it cannot work together both arms are useless for your body. For your body to work it has to work together and the function of the church is exactly the same.

I’m sure we all want to fulfill God’s purposes but if we allow ourselves to become selfish we will end up doing our own thing. That is not what God wants us to do. When we do our own thing for the kingdom we do not accomplish anything because we are separated from the body. We must be a team, working together to accomplish God’s purposes. That is why unity is needed in the house of God.

There’s an old story about someone who died and when he got to the pearly gates, St. Peter introduced him to an angel who showed him every place in heaven, then pointed out a particular building. “Don’t go in there,” the angel instructed. “Why not?” asked the newcomer. “Oh, that’s where the Pentecostals are and they think they’re the only ones here.” To accomplish something for the Lord we all must work together in unity.

Are We Adding or Destroying the Unity of the Church?

Ephesians 4:2 

 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.


Philippians 2:3-4 

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Let us examine our lives if we are adding to the unity of the church or destroying it and therefore attacking the unity of the Godhead body. Amen.

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