“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.”
Is the church united today? The answer is probably a mix of yes and no.
We must first answer the question – Which church? Your local church? The congregations in your city? In your country? This last Sunday, our pastor spoke on the mandate and call to unity, and he stressed the verse above. Perhaps the most engaging point that was made was this:
“Unity helps the world believe… disunity helps the world NOT believe.”
Wow. That message alone should nail us right to the heart. Our inability to unite contributes to the world’s unbelief.
Our church, and many other local churches have experienced a lot of disunity in the past for a lot of reasons. However, interestingly enough, our pastor is preaching this series at a time when, if anything, ACC is beginning to move forward with more purpose, unity, and direction than before. So why preach this sermon now?
When I think of disunity in the church, I think of people squabbling, bickering, and dividing over such issues as musical style or doctrinal disagreements. One might also think of the church in Corinth as Paul addresses them in 1 Corinthians. If someone were to visit our church today, they probably would not see any overt signs of this kind of disunity. I think this can be said for the majority of Christian churches today. For the most party, at least on the outside, we seem to ‘have it together’.
But just because a church is not overtly disunited doesn’t necessarily mean that that church is functioning in the kind of unity Jesus is praying about, either. There is much more to unity than the mere absence of disunity.
A church operating in unity is a church that functions as a team. In a sports team, success depends on each player knowing the goals of the team, knowing his / her position on the team and how to play it, knowing the plays or strategies of the team, and contributing 100%, forsaking his / her own agenda or pride for the sake of the team.
It is the same with the church. The ability to succeed or fail in reaching the world depends on each member knowing the goals and strategy of the church, as well as how they play a part in the “game plan.”
When you think of that quote, “unity helps the world believe… disunity helps the world NOT believe,” can you think of specific instances where this has proven itself to be true? How do you think the Church in general is doing in its call to unity?
Think on these things as you continue to work through disunity in the church. Whether local, city wide, or internationally. What kinds of changes should we dare to pray for in order to see real unity become a reality?
This post was originally written in 2010. It continues to be one of our most-read blog posts. Year after year, these words seem truer than the year before. Something that seems to be forgotten, is that we are all part of the body of Christ, (Romans 12:5) each one of us with a part to play. Just like Mike mentioned above, about a church operating as a team. We must recognize our strengths and weaknesses, while being willing to let our pride fall, so that the team can be successful. Who knows where we will be in another 10 years?
Originally posted by Mike Rauwolf, Updated by Tyler Burch