I Will Be a Unifying Church Member
I Will Be a Unifying Church Member
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, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Testimony: Twila Belk
We are all necessarily connected
We are all unique but essential
We are all bonded together in love
Key Thought: To function properly as the church; give abundantly and serve without hesitation
Because I am a member of the body of Christ, I must be a functioning member, whether I am an “eye,” an “ear,” or a “hand.” As a functioning member, I will give, I will serve, I will minister, I will evangelize, and I will study. I will seek to be a blessing to others. I will remember that “if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”
Purpose: Every Christ Follower must do what they can to passionately seek and maintain unity in the local body of Christ
Transition: Today, our thoughts turn to the deep, deep need and importance of unity in the Body of Christ both local and universal. The media loves to speak for us as believers and it usually creates contradictions, disunity and misinformation
Introduction: Video – Seeking Church Home
Illustration: Share about the video and talk about being passionate about the church.
- Some of you have lost the passion for the church
- Some of you have lost the urgency and commitment of why we need to be here on a consistent basis
- Some of you have lost the vision for what the church is all about.
- Life is too short for us to be divided on things that in light of eternity will not matter
- We disagree on the simplest things that in heaven will not matter
- How money is spent to maintain, improve or add to the church property
- Decisions on who are leaders in the church.
Unity is God’s desire for the church; but it comes at a price – Sacrifice
Illustration: MLPN – How does it work? We all agree on the essentials
Converge Serve – working together as sister churches
- Doctrinal Unity
- God’s Word is the inerrant, infallible, authoritative Word of God
- Jesus Christ is the virgin born Son of God, was the God / Man and lived a sinless life
- The authenticity of Christ’s miracles
- Jesus Christ paid the price for sin on the cross, was buried and physically rose again to overcome death, Satan, and sin to give us the hope of eternal life
- The Gospel
- Jesus Christ will physically return on God’s timetable to restore the world to what God originally intended it to be.
- Beyond all these things, we can agree to disagree on issues of doctrine, tradition, eschatology, tongues, healing, baptism, eternal security, etc. and still be a Christian
- We do not believe in secondary separation
Philippians 1:15 – 18
15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,
- Doctrinal unity must begin and end with what you do with Jesus
I John 4:1-6
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
- Servant attitude Unity
Romans 14: 7 – 12
7 For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. 9 For to this end Christ died and lived again, that he might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. 10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written,
“As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me,
and every tongue shall confess to God.”
12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.
Romans 15: 1 – 7
We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. 3 For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” 4 For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. 7 Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
Romans 14: 16 – 19
16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual up building.
- The most painful thing that has happened to me is when someone took something good that I did and speak evil of it.
- I think for me the hardest part about leadership as a Christian is to not defend yourself or a decision you made because you cannot share the facts of what went into the decision because you do not want to slander or gossip and you want to protect the character of the individual and then your good is evil spoken of.
- There has to be an element of trust in those God has placed in authority and the benefit of the doubt given to maintain unity
- We make mistakes and have made mistakes but we need the support, encouragement, and understanding of the church body to stick behind their leaders even when we fail from time to time.
Words of Wisdom
- Let’s not major on the minors but major on the majors. We have bigger fish to fry and more important things to accomplish
Quote: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”― St. Augustine
- Choose which battles are worth fighting and let the rest go. Ask yourself is this a hill worth dying on. 99% of the time it is not. We must do that in parenting and we must do that in our relationships within the church
- Realize as the verses above said, we are not all at the same place in our spiritual journey
- Best question: Is what I am in disagreement with a brother / sister / leadership in the church a matter that is going to make a difference in eternity?
Questions to ask. What are the major things to major on?
- Is what is being said or sung biblical?
- Is what is said or sung bringing glory to God?
- Is what is said or sung pointing people to Jesus?
That is about all that matters!!
- If my opinion is asked, give it but don’t demand it.
- Prayerfully consider the possibility that you may be wrong and the other person may be right.
- Prayerfully consider other’s opinions and that they may be just as right as you are
- Show grace, dignity, respect, civility and deference to others for the sake of unity
Now I do not believe peace and unity at any cost
- Conflict in relationships can be healthy
- Conflict in business dealings, marriages, even churches are healthy at times
- Maintain an attitude of dignity, respect grace, and transparency and when the decision is made, support it publicly and leave the results to God
- Too many times we support something publicly but secretly we hope it fails so that you can be proven right
- That is a human tendency. Don’t wish bad things on people unless it is for the consequences of sinful behavior with the goal of that person or group coming to the end of themselves in order to bring them to Christ and back in fellowship with him.
- To what extent are you willing to sacrifice and be a servant in order to maintain unity in the church family? Ouch
Application: What are you doing to maintain unity in the church family?
Transition: Let’s turn our thoughts for a moment now to the issue of reconciliation. We are all going to fail and fall short when it comes to this, but just as God has made it clear how to be reconciled to Him and His desire to always be in right relationship with Him, we also should be continually maintaining a right relationship with one another to the best of our ability.
Reconciliation is always possible and should be the attitude of our hearts – Forgiveness
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.
Colossians 3:12 – 13
12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
2 Corinthians 5:18
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation
- God, Jesus and Paul are always, always, always for reconciliation
- That is the heart of the Gospel and the intent of God for us who come to Christ to live our lives
- We are going to blow it from time to time. We are not perfect just forgiven
- We cannot and will not live a perfect life even after salvation
- But we are to live blameless lives which means we make sure we are in right relationship in our business dealings, our marriages
- This is a very broad topic and we cannot cover what all of this means but here are some things to remember
- Love covers a multitude of sins
- God is forgiving and compassionate with us who are we not to treat others the same way we have been treated by our Savior?
- Forgiving does not mean you feel that you have forgiven them. Feeling will follow obedience. The attitude of forgiveness to develop in a person takes time, but the act of forgiveness is commanded to be done right away
- Stage One – To forgive is a choice; an act of the will
- Stage Two – To forgive is a process whereby your choice to forgive begins over time to align with your emotions
- Stage Three – To forgive means the Holy Spirit aligns your choice to obey God in forgiving with the emotional experience of feeling genuine joy when blessings occur in that person’s life. -Chip Ingram – Living on the Edge – R12 series
- That is how you know you have completely forgiven that person.
Illustration: Chip Ingram – Basketball team
- Trust may have been broken and trust will take time to rebuild
- The relationship may never be as close as it once was but you can treat each other with dignity and respect because of Christ
- If people will not forgive you or accept your forgiveness then you have done your part and have pleased the Lord. The rest is between them and God.
Illustration: Refer to the Ten Rules of Respect with the church family, Divisive Person Policy and Matthew 18.
Application: Are we willing to do what is biblical to correct our offenses with one another?
Transition: Lastly, nothing brings more heartache and disharmony in a church than that of gossip which leads to divisiveness.
Gossip and divisiveness breaks the heart of God and the unity of the church. – Speak the truth in love
And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell.
Ephesians 4:25; 29 - 31
25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another
29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
I Peter 3:10
For “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit”
- Gossip if left unchecked and unchallenged is a cancer that will spread like wildfire and eat up a church.
- Our church has had relatively little problem for many years with gossip and divisiveness until recently. For that I am extremely thankful and call ourselves blessed. We will get through this current storm of gossip and divisiveness and we call on people to stop it when you can and encourage people to go to the people who can solve the problem.
- I have always tried to be a straight shooter about what is going on here at church and to keep the communication open and flowing. That helps prevent gossip.
- If you come and ask me or an elder a question unless it is a confidential matter we will try to share our thoughts with you.
- 1. Communication is one step of eliminating gossip
- No hidden meetings or agendas
- Clarity in the finances helps as well since after all it is your money that you are giving to the Lord and to keep the leaders accountable to be wise stewards of the finances
- 2. Clarifying people’s statements
- The problem with public speaking
- Understanding the context in which something is spoken
- If someone comes to you with gossip, shut it down. Tell that person to go to the source as we talked about earlier in the part about reconciliation
- 4. Be a part of the solution and NOT a part of the problem
- If you heard something about someone or what someone has said, go to the source and ask them about it
- Do not spread the gossip any further
Illustration: The man and the gossip
- There are three things that can be unity busters that Satan wants to use to isolate and conquer and pick people of by creating bad attitudes and destroy the harmony and camaraderie that God desires a church to be.
- Stop and think what Satan is trying to do. He wants to divide and conquer
Illustration: Lion and the gazelles
- Selfishness instead of a servant heart
- Unforgiving instead of a reconciling heart
- Gossiping instead of mutually encouraging and building each other up
Application: Are we willing to be part of the solution and NOT a part of the problem?
Key Thought: “Church membership is about sacrificing, giving and forgiving.” – Thom Rainer
I will seek to be a source of unity in my church. I know there are no perfect pastors, staff, or other church members. But neither am I. I will not be a source of gossip or dissension. One of the greatest contributions I can make is to do all I can in God’s power to help keep the church in unity for the sake of the gospel
- When this pledge occurs, the world will see something wonderful and different at PVBC than they see anywhere in the world
I Thessalonians 5:12 - 14
12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.
Questions to Ponder this Week
1. What will I have to sacrifice this week to maintain unity in our church?
2. Who do I need to reconcile differences with this week in our church?
3. What will I do to avoid gossip and divisiveness in our church this week?