Text-based in Romans 15.1-13 (see below)
Unity is precious and without unity, a church is no longer a church with a good future.
Jesus prayed for unity among the believers not only in His time but ours as well.
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:20-23 New International Version (NIV)
The truth is that is not different people that divides the church and makes the world to doubt the gospel. This is not because of refugees or people from other countries.
People divide things and churches, when people are more concern with the form that things have instead of the meaning then we have the recipe for division and destruction.
We are called to be a body, and a body is only complete and effective when is build up with different organs and members, and that is the same with church. We need a variety of people with their talents and skills and gifts to be a functional body of Christ. If all the church is the same in everything that is not unity that means that there is a controlling and “comfort zone” attitude of the people, what generates a huge inefficiency in evangelism and impact in the wider society.
But what a church needs to do in order to become a diverse church that walks in unity?
The text that we read teaches a pragmatic approach to this.
1) God gives endurance and encouragement that generates unity.
What generates unity is not a group of people in the same place.
Too many churches think that they are in unity to be in the same building every Sunday morning. Even when they don’t know much about themselves or when people cannot wait for the end of the service to disappear from the church.
What generates unity in churches is when people have the same vision!
People will do things differently, and that is healthy when done with the same vision and purpose in mind. Different organs work differently and do the different process to allow the human body to walk from point A to point B.
2) We need endurance and proactivity to be in unity.
Unity just doesn’t happen but needs to be worked and people need to decide to be in unity.
Churches need to do less activity that perpetuates the dominant culture and generate programs that share the culture of the Kingdom.
Freedom and endurance are the two keywords to be in people’s heart in the process of unity.
3) Acceptance is vital to the process.
Verse 7 says that we should accept one another as Christ has accepted us.
When accepting that people see and do things differently we are able to step forward in the process of unity.
Acceptance is vital, as without acceptance the tension will be building till the point of explosion.
This is not a pretending exercise, but an intentional process to renew the mind and practices of a local church towards becoming a place of radical welcoming.
4) When we walk n unity and acceptance God is glorified.
How awesome is that!
When churches become a place of acceptance of other worldviews and cultures there will be joy and God will be glorified.
Those are the places that transform the world and impact the community.
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.
Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:
“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing the praises of your name.”
Again, it says,
“Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles;
let all the peoples extol him.”
And again, Isaiah says,
“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
one who will arise to rule over the nations;
in him the Gentiles will hope.”
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.