Unity in Devotion to Christ

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Losing My Religion, Finding My Savior has changed my understanding of unity in the Body of Christ.

Unity is found in devotion to Christ.  It is not achieved by maintaining the status – quo and allowing brothers and sisters in Christ to live in ways that oppose the Gospel. Unity in devotion to Christ, his example, his gospel.

 

 

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,  complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,  Philippians 2:1-5

Unity in Christ

I grew up with a deep respect for authority, and I think perhaps this idea mutated from a healthy place.  It became an unwillingness to question leaders whose actions were inconsistent with the gospel.

My dislike for confrontation meant that I also did not challenge other believers when their words and actions were not Christ-like.  Maybe I considered it “giving grace” to make it sound better, but the truth was I didn’t want to rock the boat.

I confess that this meant  that there were people I liked, and people I didn’t like.  Instead of loving and caring for them, and being willing to have an awkward moment so that Jesus could be glorified, I just wrote them off.

Unified on the Surface

One of the things that Tom Orlando points out in this sermon is how we have adopted “Reagan’s First Rule” in the church.  As republicans don’t criticize other republicans, Christians don’t criticize other Christians.  We have brought the practices of the world into the church. We’ve adopted an “us” versus “them” mentality. Unity in the body is not a surface solidarity where we attack a common enemy instead of addressing the problems in our group.

To go off topic for a moment.  I feel encouraged by this sermon in the midst of this embarrassing election year.  It is so relevant as I think about the presidential election and the believers response to it:  the church is to reflect Christ, not the culture.

“We are not advocates for the concept of Christianity.  We are advocates for Jesus Christ and his Gospel.  Sometimes, that means looking in the church and saying, ‘that’s not right.’ ” Tom Orlando

What are we unified about?

I knew unity was important, I could quote the church’s mission statement, unity is a part of it. I was missing what Paul was talking about though.  We aren’t unified to live driven lives.  Our unity is not about a set of behavioral rules. Unity doesn’t mean I’m working towards the goals set forth by the church planners.

The church is unified in the understanding that God loves us;  God redeemed us through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. The Spirit is at work in our lives. Our lives guided by Christ’s example.  Let’s review Paul’s encouragement to the Philippians as he mentions Christ’s example.

  • Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit.  Do nothing. No thing. nothing.
  • Count others more significant than yourselves.
  • Look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
  • Christ emptied himself and took the form of a servant.
  • He humbled himself by become obedient, to death on a cross.

Changing me

This view of unity changes me.  I can’t claim to live unified because I follow the rules, I have to live Christ. I cannot simply live Christ in a vacuum and ignore my family in Christ.  When I see obvious sin or subtle deviation, it is unity to confront it (according to God’s word Luke 6:42, Galatians 6:1 ).

Feel free to pray for me on this one, because I still tend to ignore the things I see that are wrong.  I’m terrified to hurt people, I’m afraid even writing this post, I don’t know where to begin.  The American church, by and large, reflects a consumeristic, selfish society.

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel. Philippians 1:27

 

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