Our church has been without a pastor since last May. We elected a search committee quickly and they have been busily and faithfully going through dozens of resumes, listening to sermons, contacting references, etc… all the things involved in that huge task. We’ve had a “long-term supply” pastor for several months, the one that has inspired many of my posts, but we are ready for a shepherd! Our committee has found the man they feel that God wants for our church; he is coming to our church next month “in view of a call” (if you are not familiar with that term, it means he will meet us, preach for us, and spend time with us so we can all make our final decisions as we listen and seek God’s will.)
Well anyway, on Sunday the preacher preached his “church looking for a pastor” sermon, as he called it. It was all about unity. Many of the reasons a church needs unity are also applicable to a marriage between believers.
An interesting insight: He said unity was one of the disciplines of Christian discipleship. That was a new thought for me, but think about it: a discipline is something that does not come naturally; you have to do it consciously, and many times it’s hard; and the purpose is to mold our behavior and characters. Unity definitely does NOT come naturally, because it involves laying down and subduing our selfish egos.
There must have been a lack of unity among Christ’s disciples, because in His prayer in John 17, He talks about it at length. He asks for God’s protection “so that they may be one as we are one” (v 11) and asks “May they be brought to complete unity…” (v 23) There are several instances of disunity and competition among Jesus’s followers throughout the New Testament– In Mark 10 where James and John ask to be given places of honor– In Acts 6 where the Greeks felt that the Hebrews were overlooking their widows– Euodia and Syntyche had some sort of conflict in Philippians 4, and Paul pleads with them to “agree in the Lord.” The fact that he pleaded with them instead of just suggesting or asking indicates how important it was.
What’s the big deal? Why unity?
There is POWER in unity. One of the biggest miracles in the New Testament happened in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit entered the people and 3,000 were saved. Have you noticed what preceded the event? The King James Bible says the believers were “of one accord, ” gathered together.
Have you seen or experienced times when you are your spouse were not unified? Maybe on financial decisions? Child-rearing philosophies? Where to go or how to vacation? Of course you have; we’ve all been there! And if one of us doesn’t lay down our preference, and decide that the unity of our marriage is more important than winning, a small disagreement can lead to a big problem.
Ephesians 4 says that being able to overlook people’s faults, being patient, humble, and gentle (v 2) is the mark of MATURITY in a Christian (v 13) Verses 15-16 further explain how the members of the Body of Christ need to be able to work together like parts of our physical bodies so we will not be led astray, but become more like Christ.
A mature marriage (I don’t mean one that has just been in existence a long time; I mean a truly God-grown, mature marriage) can withstand a lot of blows. The roots are strong and the love tanks are full. God has brought you through many crises so it’s easier to believe that He will bring you through this next one.
GOD BLESSES unity: Psalm 133: 1-3 How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony… there the Lord has pronounced His blessing, even life everlasting.
When a husband and wife are united–not necessarily share the same opinions on everything, but their life philosophies are in line with one another (both with God’s), marriage is a sweet place. You know what to expect. You’ve learned to read one another and pick up on needs and moods and can respond accordingly. How peaceful!
I believe the most important benefit of unity is back in John 17: so that the world may believe that you have sent me (v 22) and to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me (v 23). Believe me, the world knows how Christians are supposed to behave. When we bicker and are ugly and rude to people, that’s not Christ they are seeing.
The news media love to throw around that statistic about Christian marriages ending in divorce as often as non-Christian. (FYI, at our Weekend to Remember conference, one of our speakers said that when the qualifications of regular church attendance and prayer were added to “being a Christian” the number of divorces dropped sharply. I don’t know where he got his figures, but that makes sense.) Remember that the enemy hates marriage, and he especially hates a marriage that honors God and represents His love for His children.
Our world today is more anti-Christian than I’ve ever seen. We must remember that our God is greater than any power on earth, and we are His children, His Body, His representatives. I pray we will be united in showing His love to unbelievers, in ways that will woo them to Him. Please God, don’t let us be ones that push people away.