January 30, 2013 at 5:54 p.m.

In these uncertain times, unity is vital

By Meredith Ebbin- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

We are living in times when, from pastors to presidents to politicians, integrity is continually compromised. There is a quest of human hearts for things that are genuine, reliable, and trustworthy.  This leads us to a new series on what is the number one key  for an effective church in these last days?  This key is taken directly from God’s Word, which will produce a healthy, productive church. And we know that anything that is healthy cannot help but grow and hence lead to effectiveness.  
God has given us many natural examples that give us insight into spiritual matters.  Take a child as an example.  A child does not grow or flourish by a parent chanting words to growth over their lives or by taking the child to a growth institute.  Conversely, it has been proven that if that child gets sufficient nutrition, water, and clothing, he or she cannot help but grow.  
I have had the opportunity to visit several countries where this is not the case from Haiti to India, from Zambia to Egypt, and I have seen some areas in these countries where children are malnourished.  As a result their growth and weight are significantly different from their peers that receive adequate nutrition in other parts of the same country.  Without a doubt, the condition of one’s health is the determining factor of effectiveness and growth.  
The same is true for human beings as well as spiritual things.  Where you have a healthy church, there you also find growth in that church.  Hence, let’s discuss probably the major key to effectiveness.  It is wrapped up in one word — unity.
The matter of unity was so vitally important to Jesus that the last prayer that he prays in John 17 before He goes to the cross is not that we would have big churches; it was not that we would have a lot of church ministries.  No, it was a shocking revelation: Jesus prayed that all believers would be one… he prayed for unity.  Oneness is not only for the local church where a group of believers that meet together under one roof, but it is also for the universal church that extends across Bermuda and around the world.  According to the Bible, the universal church contains all who, by faith alone, believe in Jesus Christ for eternal life by faith, adding no works to salvation – no water baptism, no good works, not even spiritual rituals, after all Ephesians 2:8 and 9 is very clear….
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  Ephesians 2:8, 9  NIV.

Deep intensity
When a person comes to know Jesus Christ as personal Saviour, he or she becomes part of the body of Christ of which Jesus is the head.  If anyone who is close to us calls us over to their bedside to give us their last message before they are about to die, I am certain that we will listen with deep intensity as this would be the climax of all their desires.  We need to listen to Jesus’ last prayer for the church with the same intensity that he spoke before he is betrayed and crucified which is recorded in John 17 …
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.   John 17:20-23  NIV.
Jesus stated that in order for people that do not know the LORD to realize that He is real and has been sent by the Father, it is imperative the people in the church get along with one another.  We can have the latest Christians growth gimmicks, marketing strategies and evangelistic crusade tactics, but if we don’t have unity within the local church then our efforts will be a waste.  In essence we would be like the frustrated mechanic trying to start a car with an empty gas tank.  No matter how much equipment, skill, or time is placed in getting the car to go, without fuel, it is useless.
Unity is like this fuel… and our churches must be fuelled with the love of God.  Sadly to say not only is the 11 o’clock Sunday morning hour the most racially segregated time in the western world, but it can also become one of the greatest waste of time.  When we come together for fashion more than faith, and experience rather than equipping, we are fuelling the church with temporal things.   People displaying such a mentality have blinders on.  They join churches that benefit their personal lives, their families, their feelings, rather than their spiritual lives.  They fail to realize that Jesus has called us to consider the interests of others and not just our own; in fact Paul tells us…
“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.”  Philippians 2:3
Churches are called to reach out to the persons in their community, but we forget that the magnet that draws others to Christ is the love they sense among the people of God.  As we model God’s love, the local church will eventually reflect the diversity that the country represents.  We as the redeemed saints of Jesus Christ should not be building black-only or white-only churches, because Jesus died for everyone and we are to reach out to all people.  In the book of Acts we read of a diverse leadership team; we read that the Greek widows and the Jewish widows were in the same church, likewise what a powerful testimony of God’s love when all people groups come together.   
I am not being simplistic, I know that the past has been horrific as many have been — and sadly still are — riddled with prejudice and hatred.  However, not following the pattern of this world, when are we  as Christians going to become colour-blind to race? As Christians, we should see people that know Jesus as personal Saviour or others that need to know Him.  
God continues to remind me that the state of a nation is a direct reflection on the state of the church.  Why?  Because the church has the answer… it is the love and grace of God that will attract people to Jesus.  I have heard it said, “To live and love the saints in heaven above, oh that will be glory; but live and love those here on earth below; well that’s a different story!”  
However, this is the agape, unconditional love that Jesus died and rose again for us to have.  Next week we will examine the key that unlocks the door of… ‘How to practically maintain unity in the church’… we need to recognize this key and how to use it… after all, the state of our country depends on it.
Pastor Gary C. Simons serves as the Senior Pastor at Cornerstone Bible Fellowship, 82 Church Street, Hamilton.[[In-content Ad]]


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