A couple weeks ago I preached on the priority God places upon unity within churches – unity with Christ and unity with one another. Because of what God has already done, we are called to “make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit (Eph. 4:3).”
But what are some specific ways we can actually do that? Especially considering proposed changes to the way we govern ourselves, what are some ways we can not just hope for unity, but to fight to maintain the unity Jesus made possible through the cross (Eph. 2:14)? Here are four practical ways we can all work to maintain the unity of Christ’s Covenant Church:
- Pray – There is possibly nothing more unifying that we can do than to be praying. We can pray for ourselves, that we would have an increased love for others. We can pray for each other. Jesus said we are to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44). How much more should we be praying for our brothers and sisters at CCC – our home away from Home? Lastly, we can pray with each other at our family prayer gatherings and in our Life Groups. Praying with others is immensely unifying – reminding us of our unity with Christ and each other as we lift up requests and praises to God together in Jesus’ name. It also reminds us that we need the Spirit to empower us to maintain unity.
- Reconcile – Being ruthlessly committed to unity includes seeking and offering forgiveness to others within the body here at CCC. As Jesus said, “If you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matt. 5:23-24).” Part of rightfully worshipping God is being right with one another and endeavoring for the sake of unity at CCC.
- Engage – Especially with the updated proposed polity coming out soon, one way to make an effort for the sake of unity is to engage in the process. Read it. Pray about it. Ask the pastors and others who worked on it to clarify things you don’t understand or have concerns about.But engaging goes way beyond our current polity discussion. Sometimes there are concerns about something within the church. The temptation is to distance ourselves, to “dis-member” ourselves from the body. But maintaining unity means voicing those concerns to the appropriate people, seeking to understand why something is the way it is, and offering a solution. And who knows, maybe the solution is you pressing in more deeply and serving as a part of the solution instead of withdrawing due to concern. When that happens, when we all partner in “the work of the ministry,” it leads to the “building up of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12).”
- Encourage – This is our home away from Home, and until we are finally in our true Home, there will be things that aren’t ideal everywhere – even in the church. And we’re all tempted to almost exclusively focus on the problems. But, as one pastor has put it, “Which are we more aware of in our churches: evidences of God at work – evidences of grace – or deficiencies in our church? It takes real discernment to identify how God is at work in a church.” Encouraging each other – pointing out how God is working in and through others – builds unity amidst the imperfection that is currently, but temporarily, present in every believer and every church.So why don’t we all commit to letting no corrupting talk come out of our mouths, but only that which is good for building up so that it will give grace to those who hear (Eph. 4:29)? Write an encouraging note to someone. Say thank you to someone serving in a typically unnoticed role. Express your gratitude to those who teach your kids on Sunday mornings or Wednesday nights. Encourage people in your Life Group by telling them how you’ve seen them act like Jesus, citing specific instances they’ve shown generosity, hospitality, wisdom, love, courage, or a servant’s heart. Let someone know that you’ve been praying for them.
Remember, it took the blood of Jesus to unify us as a people (Eph. 2:14). Let’s do everything we can to maintain that unity by being people committed to praying, reconciling, engaging, and encouraging each other.
– Pastor Kyle