As Christians, we understand that we are each part of the body of Christ. We understand that the Church is comprised of many parts that each has a special function. The Church is people. Each of us are different. Each of us are part of the body of Christ. We also know that Jesus Christ spoke of unity and prayed for unity. This is important.
Paul wrote that “we all belong to each other,” as translated in the New Living Translation. I love this translation. We all belong to each other. I think this helps us to get a better picture of unity. If we belong to each other, it should mean that we care for those who belong to us. Don’t you care for your belongings? If we belong to each other, it should mean that we treasure those who belong to us. Don’t you treasure your belongings? Don’t you treat what you own nicely because it is of value to you? If we belong to each other, that means that not only does a person belong to you, but you belong to the person. This speaks of humility, connectivity, loyalty, and so much more.
One of the biggest areas we struggle with is unity. Jesus spoke a lot about unity because He knew of the struggles we would have with harmony as a body. When you take a group of imperfect people and join them together, there will be problems. But what links us together is the Holy Spirit. If we allow the Spirit to move freely and guide our steps, we can live as if we belong to each other. We can seek out the best interests for our brothers and sisters. We can think more of our fellow believers. We can treasure those God puts in our lives and ask Him how we can bless, encourage, and strengthen them on their walk. We can live within the unity instead of trying to break out on top. Remember today, we all belong to each other.
“Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.” – Romans 12:4-5 [NLT]
When I speak with people about church, they always ask the denomination. Then I say, “Oh it’s non-denominational.” It’s an interesting phrase. There’s different denominations (for example Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist). Then there’s non-denominational. Those are the churches that claim to not be affiliated with any of the known denominations. After the Early Church that you read about in Acts, things started to break apart. As time continued, groups were formed from other groups. Some churches have so many different divisions in their names, it becomes a tongue twister.
The denominations all came about from a difference of beliefs. This still happens today, hence the reason we have tons of church plants and longer than life names. The reason for the differences of beliefs, and at times, disunity of the church, is because we are a broken people. The church is filled with sinners, many sinners who are saved by grace alone. But we aren’t perfect. Some of us are proud, lazy, quick to speak, discontent, disorganized, agenda focused, bossy, or fable telling folks. We aren’t perfect, so it’s hard for us to all live together in harmony.
Nonetheless, the Bible speaks a lot about unity or harmony. Yes, that’s the vision God has for His Church. The capital “C” Church is the universal church. Broken down, this is all of the denominations and non-denominations. Together, as the big C, we need to be united. Remember, the Church is the body of Christ. The Church is people, not buildings. As the big C, we must remember Who we worship, Who we follow, Who is the Head of the Body. Even so, all of the little C’s need to also be united as separate bodies.
This seems like an impossible task. People can rarely get along. There are bound to be disagreements. Yes. Very true. But with God, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Remember the reason for the Church. Keep running the race. The Spirit will unite us if we allow ourselves to be led (Ephesians 4:3). Don’t be proud. Don’t think you know it all. Humble yourself and seek the best for others (1 Corinthians 10:24). Love. It’s the bond of perfect unity (see Colossians 3:14). Live in harmony.
“Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” – Romans 12:16 [NLT]
I love to take an early morning walk with Max; the earliest the better. When the sun is first coming up and there is still dew on the grass, there is a great peace that embraces you. The sweet melody of birds chirping is so beautiful. This morning I heard a chorus of different birds chirping together. I spotted cardinals, blue jays, hummingbirds, robins, black birds and others. They came together in one song, one voice that was pleasant to my ears.
As I finished walking home, Max and I continued to hear these birds. I thought of Romans 15 – I considered the harmony we are to live in, and the voice that we are to sing with together—with one voice. These birds were different types of birds, all different sizes, all different voices. They gather together in harmony this morning to have their morning meal and sing. It was so peaceful to my ears.
Paul spoke of us living as Christ desired, in complete harmony together. He wrote, “Then all of you can join together with ONE VOICE, giving PRAISE AND GLORY TO GOD.” We each sound different. Some of us are altos, some sopranos. Some of us have raspy voices, others can reach high pitches. Some of us use our voice to express different opinions than others. Some of us speak loud; some of us are quiet spoken. But Paul says we can all unite together with one voice. How? Through Christ Jesus. God gives “patience and encouragement” to us. It’s possible. Too often we spend our time trying to argue our stance, trying to be heard, trying to be seen, trying to make a point. It should all be about Jesus. If we each make it all about Jesus, and we gather together with the same heart for Jesus, then it doesn’t matter if we are from different denominations, different backgrounds, different cultures—it doesn’t matter our opinions, how we dress or anything else. Only Jesus matters. And with one voice, may we sing. May we sing praises to our great Father.
“May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.” – Romans 15:5-7 [NLT]
When I was recently reading about Joseph, Genesis 37:4 stuck out to me: “When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him” (NIV). The verse states that the brothers of Joseph could not speak a kind word to him. I considered that inability the brothers had and could not imagine not being able to say something kind to a person, even someone I am not very fond of or on good speaking terms. Even with someone who rubs me the wrong way, I am able to find something kind to say to that person.
The Bible says that the brothers of Joseph hated him. They were jealous that their father loved him more. Joseph was given a robe that would be something worn by royalty. We can see the damage favoritism can cause in our lives. Plus Joseph was also a bit of a tattle tale as well, and this surely caused more hatred to brew.
You may know some people who aren’t easy to love. Though it may be a challenge, we need to show these people love. As Jesus said, what is it to show love to someone who is easy to love? It is so much more to show love to those who can be a challenge—those who make us sacrifice—those who don’t make it so easy. If there is someone who rubs you the wrong way, go out of your way today to say something kind to that person. You might be surprised at how God will use your kind words.
“Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” Luke 6:31-35 [NIV]