segunda-feira, 11 de agosto de 2008

UNITY

UNITY

United we stand and divided we fall. We have all heard these words before and nothing could be truer in the Christian faith. Christian should be the most united group of individuals on the planet, but sadly, this is not so. To create a study on all the places in the Bible that God stresses unity among believers would span many pages and many devotions. For sake of time and ease of reading, we will stay in a few verses in the book of Ephesians. Let’s start by giving you a little background of this book of the Bible. Paul wrote a letter to the church at Ephesus. Like al Paul’s letters to the churches, he addressed specific issues that related to the need of that church. In result, we find Paul tackling issues that are in our churches today since sin is always sin, people are always people, and most importantly, God is always God. The church at Ephesus was big and successful so it became easy for them to forget what Jesus has done for them. The people at Ephesus likely became like many Christians today: shallow, and misguided, thinking that God exists for them and not the other way around. One common area that arises when people forget what Jesus has done for them is that they become selfish, prideful, and un-unified.

Have you ever seen a Christian intentionally cause pain and dissention among fellow believers? Have you ever seen a Christian intentionally set out to cause damage in another Christian’s life? Sure, we all have, and perhaps, we have been guilty of such actions. Show me one place, just one, in the Bible where God gives a Christian permission to attack and harm another Christian.
Even in my life right at this moment I am in a situation where many Christians (or people who claim to be Christians) are maliciously and intentionally trying to ruin my life and my testimony, and anything that brings me happiness. They even take advantage of my good nature knowing that I have plenty of hurtful and true things I could say about them and damage their reputation yet I hold my peace……. Why?
There is no passage of Scripture giving you the green light to attack even if you yourself have been attacked. In fact we are told quite the opposite in Romans 12:9-21

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,”says the Lord. Therefore“ If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

God is in control, and he will punish those who sin against you. Indeed, Gods punishment will be much more severe than anything we could dish out. In fact, we should feel sorry for people who sin against us because if they are acting outside of Christian unity, God will punish them.
We could end this devotion with those scriptures in Romans if we wanted to. You cannot get more clear than that, but lets look at what Paul (the man who wrote Romans and Ephesians) says to the church of Ephesus about this matter. Apparently this is a problem among Christians because he had to address it more than once. I encourage you to read all of Ephesians Chapter 4 but for sake of time I will pull out a few key verses on this topic.

v. 1-6
I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

There is one God and one way to Heaven (Through faith in Jesus). There is one way to live as a Christian. Of course God has different plans for each of us but the Word of God contains truths that every Christian must follow. Because of this, if any Christian is living the way they should be, their life should be one of unity with other believers.

v. 11-16
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.

God gave us all different talents and different positions but every thing God gives to us is given so that we may use it in unity. You may be wondering what this term (body of Christ) means. The body of Christ is Christians and all of us have talents and abilities different from each other but we all work in unity as one body. Just as the eyes can see but cannot walk, the legs can walk but cannot see. All of our physical body parts must work together in order for us to be safe, healthy, and productive. The same is true in the body of Christ. Some Christians can pray very well and very often but are not able to teach the Bible. Some Christians can preach the Bible but are not good at counseling people in need one-on-one. Some Christians can sing and some cannot. You see we all have different abilities and must use them together to perform God's will. We must be in unity. What would happen if in our physical body, if the hand attacked the ears, or even if one foot attacked the other? Well, utter chaos would ensue. The same happens when Christians attack each other and don’t work together. Unfortunately when we do attack each other, the person who suffers the most is Jesus. We fail him and hurt him more than the people we are trying to hurt.

v.17-24
This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

In these verses, Paul talks about the way the Gentiles (non-believers in Christ) live their lives and how we as Christians should not live that way. Sadly, this is exactly the way many people who call themselves Christians live. At a different time we could talk much about whether or not someone is truly a Christian, but it is a topic we must be careful of because even though there are certain things the Bible is clear about that a true Christian will and wont do, we all still have a nature to sin and will make mistakes, yet someone who repeatedly shows no love for the Bible and no love for fellow Christians would certainly indicate that they have never repented (admitted their sin in remorse to our Most Holy God) and accepted Jesus as the Lord of their life and Savior from their sins. These verses show us that someone without Jesus in their lives will live according to their own human lust, in futility, selfishness, pride, greed, separate from the truth in God's Word, dirty and sinful, and with no understanding of spiritual wisdom. Yes you can be a Christian and live this way, but why would you want to? This type of Christian will cause division, dissention, trouble, and pain in the body of Christ and will destroy unity.

v.31-32
Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

Pray for me as I pray for you on this matter of Christian unity. If you have any questions or comments, please email me and I will be glad to talk to you. If you are not sure if you have Unity with even Jesus himself, dont hesitate to contact me because this is the most important topic you or anyone else will ever face in their life.

Love in Christ
Matthew

Um comentário:

  1. Great blog for sure :)
    One of the quotations that can be applied to this topic is a Rob Bell's one :

    ~Why blame the dark for being dark? It's far more helpful to ask why the light isn't as bright as it should be.~

    -Rob Bell


    Many christians go so prissy about things that wont give them no good and they forget to be using their time , talents and abilities for the kindgom and when it happens , the body suffers, and when the body suffers , the non-churched have a rusty perspective about what a Christian life is...

    May we spend time and energy on what really matters and letting our enemies in God´s hands. There is no other better place for them to be :)!

    Blessings!

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