20 May Words of Grace – Agreement and Unity in the Church
Be honest. There are some people you prefer to be with more than others. And there are some people you prefer not to be with at all. There are some people you find agreeable. There are others with whom you disagree. OK, be really honest. You like some people more than others, and some people you don’t like at all, even in the church.
Sometimes you find yourself disagreeing with people you really love and that disagreement puts a strain on the relationship. That’s a hard reality to deal with.
Here’s another honesty check. You sometimes handle these situations and relationships with no thoughtful guiding principles, but simply by emotion. The relationship just happens, develops, or dissolves based on how you feel and what you feel up for in the moment.
So what do you do when you read Bible passages about loving and living in unity with others in the church? How do you approach disagreement and disunity with your brothers and sisters in Christ?
The book of Philippians has much to say about Christian unity. The passage I plan to preach from Sunday deals with a real disagreement between two members of the same church (Philippians 4:1-3). Here are a few highlights from this passage:
- We need to keep in mind that we are in relationship with one another because we share the common experience of God’s grace in Christ. We are united to one another as Christians, so the goal is to live like it. Focusing on the common experience of grace keeps us humble with each other.
- Our agreement with one another doesn’t have to be in everything (like food, music, political candidates or even some practices in the local church) but it is in the gospel. Our unity of thought (Philippians 2:2) is about the events, meaning, response to, and experience of the incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension, and return of Jesus Christ. Our unity of practice is the love, holiness, worship, and ministry that flow from our faith in the gospel.
- Our agreement with one another and unity in the church is for the work of the Lord and the advance of the gospel. Agreement in the gospel and unity in relationships inspire and fuel partnerships for discipleship and congregational care among us, and evangelism and service in the world.
Think about the relationships you have that are strained, cool, or distant. Are you approaching or avoiding them based on emotion and convenience? Or are the grace, gospel, and work of the Lord providing you with reasons to live in love, unity, and agreement with your brothers and sisters in Christ?
Think on these things. I hope to see you Sunday.