Essential Unity

Many people are tired during this season. There is potential weariness and potential frustration in any time of waiting. The regulations and standards have disrupted some moments of everyday life, and many states are resuming more normalized activities while others wait for orders to expire or change. Watching and listening to many of the voices in our society reminds me of the moments after a plane lands. Passengers leap to their feet, grab their bags and pack the aisles…only to wait. You can discover much about a person’s heart near the end of a long flight, and you can discover much about a person’s heart near the end of a long struggle. That is why endurance is so important. 

Endurance is only endurance if you practice it over a period of time. The Bible mentions patience often. In older translations, it is referred to as “longsuffering.” The word literally means that you are “long of soul.” In other words, you endure without allowing your soul to be stirred in a negative way. I have checked: the Bible never praises “shortsuffering.”                 
Mercy is short, and gracelessness abounds. Sadly, many Christians do not practice grace with those outside the faith or with each other. Showing an attitude of grace applies not only to how we deal with the sins of others, but it is how God intends us to live with each other in all ways, even down to the words we use. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person (Colossians 4:6).

I’ve talked to a few church leaders lately who have expressed how they have been confronted by people who are complaining and holding to a generally negative attitude about every aspect of this different (and sometimes-inconvenient) season we have been navigating. I asked some of those leaders, “Are these the same people who were negative and complaint-prone before the pandemic?” The answer to that question was always “yes.” A critical spirit is never asymptomatic.      

It is difficult show great grace to others, and that is the point of it: grace costs the giver. It always does.

The church in America must show grace and unity, especially as we resume meeting again. Debates abound over whether a business, organization or particular practice is “essential.” Within the church, we have no option: unity is an essential (pandemic or not). Currently, and in the days ahead, churches will have guidelines in place for safety. These guidelines will create some necessary extra steps. Some will think the steps are too much; some will think they are not enough. Some will think we should not meet until much more time passes (no matter when that is); some will think we should have never stopped meeting. And in spaces such as that, where the environment is ripe for heated disagreement and the world is watching how we respond to each other, the body of Christ must not turn upon itself.

It would be nice if we lived in a world where every conflict was easily solved, every right course of action was obvious and every intention was clear. But we don’t. So we must show grace. If Jesus showed us such grace and sacrifice, and he is truly alive inside us, then we will show the same grace and sacrifice that he did. There are only two reasons for living without grace: we refuse to die to self and sacrifice our self-will, or we never have received lasting grace from God.

If we know the love of God, we’ll show it, live it and endure by it.  

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13:7).

For a great article about our need for unity during this time, click here

Pray that…

We will stand firm in unity. – Philippians 1:27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.

Our lifestyles would be marked by genuine humility, gentleness and patience. – Ephesians 4:1-3 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Our love would an active force in our unity with each other. – Colossians 3:14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

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