Last week, we examined the value of local church membership, and the privileges that come with that. In addition, we looked at four responsibilities, including the responsibility to maintain unity (John 17:21). If the unity that God wants is going to exist and be maintained, then we all must play a role in that. And the pattern that God has set forth in the New Testament requires the effort of every member.
We can look at the early Christians — specifically in Acts 2 and 4 — to see the blessings and benefits of unity. They were joined to one another. They belonged to each other. They did not live independent lives. Their hopes and dreams for eternity were tied to one another. That preserved their unity and kept factions from forming in the church. Unity was seen in everything they did.
So, what are some practical ways we can maintain unity?
Check our motives: Is my motive to resolve conflict, bring love, fix the relationship and to unite? At the end of the day, our ultimate motive is pleasing Jesus.
Stop and listen (James 1:19): Unity can be accomplished if I just stop to listen and objectively evaluate.
Give grace: God gives us more grace. It isn’t something we earn. It’s given. It’s a gift. Show grace and mercy.
Submit to God and resist the devil (James 4:7): When frustrations build, submit to God and His authority. Not my will, but Your will. Have the courage to say, “Get behind me, Satan” (Matt. 16:23). We love one another and the church that Jesus died for too much to give place to the devil.
Act with humility (James 4:10): Humility is displayed by having the attitude of giving and serving. It’s taking the other person and putting them in a place of honor.
Assume the best in people: Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. They’re trying to do the best they can do, just like we are.
Be reasonable (Phil. 4:5): Someone who is “reasonable” can be reasoned with.
Take it to God: Go to God in prayer. Ask Him to fill your heart with humility, grace, kindness and the spirit of unity.
What worked 2,000 years ago for the church in Jerusalem still works today. We are to be one and united in Christ.