Unity in the Church
September 22, 2015
“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call.” –Ephesians 4:4 ESV
In discussing church strategies for the 21st century, Roger Harrison says, “A part cannot remain healthy in a system which is sick and the whole cannot thrive when its parts are suffering.” A system is healthiest when its parts work together in unity. In my sermon a few weeks ago, I talked about the importance of unity in the church.
I encouraged the church not to mistake unity for unison. In our beautiful anthems on Sunday morning, each section (tenors, baritone, basses, sopranos and altos) lends its distinct and diverse voice to bring forth unity in music. So it is with the church. When God’s people use their distinct and diverse gifts, the Spirit of God brings forth a vision for the church.
Disunity, discord, and dissension characterize too many churches in America. In these congregations, the parts confuse their role with the whole system. NO PART whether it be a Sunday School Class, a choir, or a staff member, is greater than the WHOLE. The greater good of the congregation is ALWAYS greater than any part.
During the children’s moment, I presented the children with a puzzle (Jesus taking the loaves and fishes from a young boy to feed 5,000). Each child used the puzzle piece given to him/her to complete the picture. They did it in record time! The same is true for the church. When each part works together and brings its unique gifts to ministry, the church gets a full picture of God’s vision for the congregation.
At one point in the sermon, I dumped the puzzle pieces out and the congregation watched each piece scatter in its own direction. That is what happens when disunity, discord, and dissension prevail. Each part scatters in its own direction, bringing disharmony to the body of Christ. This causes the church to lose sight of the “big picture” or vision God sets before us.
The Apostle Paul says, “There is one body and one spirit. Just as you were called to one hope: one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God! The apostle reminds us of the POWER OF ONENESS! Oneness occurs when we have the courage to: admit our wrongs, ; practice forgiveness as well as learn to ask for forgiveness, let go of our past wounds and grudges; refrain from the temptation to gossip and share malicious words about our brothers and sisters and to quit complaining and work toward finding solutions to the challenges that arise in ministry.
THE POWER OF ONENESS is a gift to the church from God.
Prayer: Lord, may we use our distinct and diverse gifts to work together to bring unity and harmony to the church. God, give us a renewed vision and so that there will be unity in God’s church. Amen.
Reverend Thomas Bayes
Former Interim Pastor at First Baptist Church
of Colorado Springs, Colorado