Eagerness and Peace: How to Fight for Unity
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3 ESV
Unity. Jesus prayed that His children would be unified so that the world would believe that God sent Him. But unity is not easy. After all God gave us different gifts and He made us to be different parts of His body of believers. So feet need to be feet and not hands. Hands need to be hands and not mouths, etc. When the lung wants to be a stomach the physical body can’t work properly and neither can the local body of Christ.
But often members of the body of Christ fight over whether we are the feet or the eyes. Or we whisper about each other, interpreting motives without asking if we are correct. We designate ourselves the mouth to spread messages throughout the body without the brain fact-checking for us. Part of the body agrees with us and joins our whispering. Another part is horrified that someone would whisper such nonsense and still another part doesn’t even hear the whisperings.
And in the middle of this bodily mutiny we gather to worship the Creator of the universe. Our eyes dart the auditorium, making mental notes of facial expressions, questioning motives of fellow members. We assume the worst of others and pray God will work in their hearts. We don’t even notice the hypocrisy in our hearts. We work at tearing down the very ministry God chose to spread His message and we wonder why churches are declining.
Perhaps there is a better way. What if instead of whispering we lovingly, awkwardly, timidly ask the hard questions. Questions like:
“Did you mean ________ when you said ______________?”
“I felt hurt when __________________. Can you tell me why you made that choice?”
“I feel there is a misunderstanding between us. Can you tell me what it is?”
Then what if we fought for unity? What if when whispering started we said:
“I don’t want to be rude but if you are concerned about something ____________ did maybe you should ask him/her about it.”
“If you are concerned about the choices our pastors are making perhaps you should check to make sure it is a main issue. If it isn’t then you ought to support our pastors. If it is a main issue (not biblical in nature) then you need to pray and talk with the pastors in grace and truth. Please don’t whisper about it to others.”
“Our church is not perfect. We are all sinners, but God is working in and through our imperfections. I hope everyone can see the amazing things God is doing here.”
When we are eager for peace and unity then we are willing to fight for it. What do you need to do in order to fight for peace and unity among believers in your church?
Father God I confess it is easy to allow complaints and bitterness to drive a wedge in churches and wreak havoc on the unity we have in You. Lord help us to be people who fight for peace and unity about all believers – both in the local church and in the Church. May we believers be unified in You so that this world will see Jesus as Your Son. In Jesus’ powerful Name we pray. Amen.