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Week 4 Saturday
- 1 Corinthians 12:12–31
- Ephesians 4:1–16
- John 17:20–26
Questions to Consider
- Where do you see disunity in the world?
- What are the consequences of disunity?
- What is your role as a peace-maker?
- How does Jesus bring peace and reconciliation to a hostile world?
Plan of Action
- What is a sacrifice you need to make for the sake of unity? What are you holding on to out of pride that is hindering unity in your marriage, church, or work?
- Participate in the Lord’s Supper this weekend with other brothers and sisters in Christ to find unity with them in Christ’s sacrifice.
Where there are many visions there is division. We see it in the politics of America. There are different views about the future of America and how the government should be run. What we are left with is polarization and disunity on many important matters of policy.
We see this same type of disunity within the church. There is competition between denominations. There is competition within denominations. There is also competition within many local churches. Different visions lead to division.
But God does not have multiple visions. He has one vision. His vision is about saving lost sinners. We strive together to seek the implications of this vision in our local context. Maintaining unity is difficult, but here are some important convictions to maintain if we are to stay unified:
Honor those in authority
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17 (ESV)
Whether it is a pastor or a board member, their job is not easy. They have been entrusted with the task to make difficult decisions. We may not always agree with their decision,s but we must honor their decisions and trust they are seeking the Lord. That was why they were appointed to the position they were given.
As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 1 Corinthians 12:20 (ESV)
Unity is not the same as uniformity. Diversity is something to be celebrated within the church. We look different. We think different. We have different likes and dislikes. We have different gifts. The church would be very boring if everyone was the same.
Differences will sometimes lead to conflict, but we would do well to look for the opportunity in conflict. How do we grow from conflict? What are the lessons to be learned in conflict? How is God refining us during conflict?
Be a peacemaker
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. Matthew 5:9 (ESV)
The amazing thing about God is that he was willing to embrace a humanity which was hostile towards him. To make peace possible he led with love rather than justice. Rather than holding people accountable for their sins, he sent Jesus. God’s love for sinners is relentless.
Like God, we must be willing to lead with love rather than justice. In 2 Corinthians 5:18–19 we are described as ministers of reconciliation. We are agents of peace. We strive for reconciliation by following God’s example in that he did not count people’s sins against them. He took their sins upon himself (2 Corinthians 5:18–21). For unity to exist, you must be willing to absorb the sins of others. A peacemaker must be willing to stand in the line of fire and sometimes get burned.
Participation in the Lord’s Supper
For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. 1 Corinthians 11:29 (ESV)
We see the joining of two words in the one word communion (common + union). As the family of God we hold a unity of faith. We participate in the body and blood of Christ. There is a mystical union. That is what Sacrament is. The Lord’s Supper is about more than our relationship with Jesus. There is a reason we receive it together with other believers. Communion is also about our relationship with brothers and sisters in Christ – the body of Christ. Through the Lord’s Supper, we are one with Christ, but we are also one with each other. It’s the Body of Christ that unites us. I imagine this is one of the reasons Jesus tells us to do this often so that we remember our unity in him.
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Joan Colliflower says
I am an actively participating member of Calvary LCMS in Baltimore. Were I to visit with your congregation would you allow me to partake of the Eucharist?
Phil Ressler says
Hi Joan- we would love to have you as our guest. Here is a link to information about the Lord’s Supper at Good Shepherd: https://www.gs4nj.org/about/faq/communion/
Such an outstanding message! I hadn’t heard of ministry leaders being in same standing as pastors or government officials under Heb. 13:17 but you’re right. Thank you.