Hardly a day passes without us noticing the increasing intensity of rancor and disagreement that seems to fill every possible space in our news, communities, governments, conversations and even our churches and families. The time for holding differing opinions, while maintaining reasonable and cordial relationships with others, has passed. In our digital world, the level of disagreement and judgmental commentary is more profound and common than at any time that I can remember. Yet we understand that as long as humans have inhabited this earth, there have been serious disagreements, even conflicts, between people. We have been created with the individual power of choice and unfortunately we tend to exercise this power from a place of self-interest.
Jesus has some very specific counsel for those of us who choose to follow Him. His life and ministry modeled peaceful interactions with others while continually focusing on extending His heart and hands to meet the needs of others. In Matthew 5:9 He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Being peacemakers doesn’t come naturally to us. However, being willing to forgo personal benefit for the good of others and to reduce the potential for conflict is the pathway of peacemakers.
Throughout the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles’ letters we find the call to choose lives of self-denial rather than self-interest. And since we are all individually unique, we sometimes place a greater value on our perspectives, our opinions and our benefit rather than seeking to honor others, which is the foundational principle of love.
As members within the Church we should desire to find ways to be in agreement and unity as we live, work and minister together. In Romans 12:10, Paul encouraged us to “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” This approach to relationships doesn’t come naturally and is really only possible through the transforming power of the love of God.
The Apostles who first stepped into the instructions that Jesus gave in the Great Commission were careful to proceed just as they were instructed. And the result of their commitment to remaining together and being in prayer was an amazing demonstration of the Holy Spirit being poured out upon them all, and they were united “one in heart and mind.” The secret component of that type of unity is clearly the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.
Even though we, as members, represent various ethnicities, many different educational backgrounds and experiences, along with various personality types, unity is a vital component for the success of our mission. Are we willing to go all-in for the sake of the Gospel, to completely submit our personal agendas to the Lord and then live and minister in His name and for His glory?
By Phil Robertson