Unity should be important to us because unity is something Jesus prays for all those who follow Him. After praying for His disciples who where there with Him on earth, Jesus prayed specifically for all the generations of believers to come.
John 17:20-23 (ESV) “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
The specific prayer of Jesus was that His followers might be one. The purpose of this unity is that the world may know that God sent Jesus and loves them. In 1 Corinthians 12, after describing the diversity of spiritual gifts in the body of Christ, the Apostle Paul writes in the last verse of chapter twelve of a “more excellent way.” He then reveals what that more excellent way is in 1 Corinthians 13—love. The primary way that unity is to be manifested in our church body is in our love for one another.
John 13:35 (ESV) By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Love is the foundation for our unity as Christ’s church. It is important for us to love one another as we transition into our new worship schedule. The goal is to bring our three Sunday morning worship services into a two-worship service model in the best and most unified way possible. Below are statements from the March 4, 2018, sermon entitled “A Vision for Unity.”
• Unity is not all being in the same room together when we worship. If it were, then we would only have one big worship service every Sunday.
• Unity comes through hearing a consistent message from the pulpit on Sundays.
• Unity comes through Sunday school and small group relationships and connections.
• Unity comes from knowing where we’re going (mission statement and 20/20 Vision).
• Unity comes from a united music ministry, not two separate ones.
• We have two primary styles of worship as a church. We must acknowledge, embrace, and celebrate this while never letting our worship preferences become divisive.
• Moving forward in the new worship schedule, we will worship in the room with the most seating and with the best acoustics in our entire facility. Our sound system is over 20 years old, and it is time to upgrade it. Doing so will give everyone in both services a better worship experience.
• Vision must primarily look to the future. We must do what will ensure that future generations will gather to worship at our church.
• The new 11:00 service will be more accessible to all our people. Current 11:00 worshipers do have another option at 8:45 if the new 11:00 service style is not relatable.
• Unity will occur as we consistently fellowship, worship, and pray with other local churches.
It is good and pleasant for God’s people to dwell together in unity (Psalm 133:1). The New Testament gives us four more truths about unity to take to heart as we move forward together.
1. Unity involves accepting one another.
Romans 15:7 (NAS) Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.
2. Unity involves being of the same mind.
1 Peter 3:8 (ESV) Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
3. Unity takes effort and must be kept. It requires us to bear with one another.
Ephesians 4:2-3 (NIV) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
4. Unity is only possible through having the likeness of Jesus Christ manifested in us.
Philippians 2:1-5 (ESV) So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,
If we are going to be a unified church, we must accept one another just as Jesus has accepted us. We need a unity of mind, which will come about when we have sympathy, love, tender hearts, and humble thoughts. It will be humility and gentleness that will give us the patience to bear with one another in love. Unity will take effort, and the unity of the Spirit must be kept through the bond of peace. Ultimately, we need the mind of Jesus, His attitude and humble love within us. This is possible through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. We must have this mind of Jesus in us so that we will not act with selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than ourselves. A truly unified church is made up of people who put Jesus first, others second, and ourselves last.
Remember Jesus says the Father is seeking true worshipers who will worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). The Lord is more concerned about the substance of our worship (spirit and truth) than the instrumentation, lighting, room, style, and time when we worship. Our spiritual worship is to present ourselves to God as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1). Hebrews 13:15 begins, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise” (NIV). Worship is not something we come to on Sundays, rather we are to bring our worship to God. Hebrews 12:28 says, “Let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe” (ESV).