Walking Worthy by Preserving Unity
May 31, 2020
I have always loved, and often used, the saying, “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as quickly as I could.”
Similarly, I wasn’t born in the church, but I got here as quickly as I could. Since childhood, I have always attended church regularly and since adulthood, have always been an active member of a church. I love the church of Jesus Christ. The church is — and always has been — a central part of my life. It is part of my life because of my role and responsibilities as a pastor, but it was central to my life long before I became (or even thought about being) a pastor and will be central to my life long after I cease being a pastor.
In my love for the church, I have (and have had) concerns for the church. In my high school and college years, I became aware of the persecuted church. I rejoiced when the communist wall came down, but soon realized that there still remained (remains) a large segment of the church that is persecuted (we have missionaries in Beirut, for instance). I have also always had theological concerns for the church. Attacks against orthodox theology that pervert the truths of God and the gospel are common — they seemingly come at least annually and as soon as one attack is repressed, three others arise. Protecting our flock from error has been a relentless part of our ministry here, which I knew we would face, but had no idea the magnitude of the attacks when I arrived here as a young, fresh-out-of-seminary, unexperienced pastor.
But of all of the attacks and concerns for the church, there was one desire I had for our church (and the church-at-large) for which I prayed before I ever arrived here and for which I have been passionate to pursue all the years I’ve been here. It is the concern for which I have been particularly praying since we had to stop gathering 2-1/2 months ago, and is now a greater prayer as we prepare for regathering. The concern is for our unity.
When a couple hears the words “I pronounce you husband and wife,” they are instantly united together. But that doesn’t mean that in that moment they are unified in heart. And just staying married for 30 or 60 or more years doesn’t mean they are unified either. It is possible to be legally united and personally distant and ununified. That’s true in the church as well. The moment we individually believe in Christ, we are united to Him and the Trinity — and we are also united to Christ’s body, the church. But that unity needs to be worked out and realized (which is why Jesus prays for that very thing in John 17:20-26).
As we prepare to re-gather soon, on the basis of our union with Christ, we are already one. My longing and desire is that we will also act like one — that the way we relate to one another and talk to one another and care for one another, reflects accurately the unity we have with each other.
While we have worked hard to stay connected through technology these days, the opportunity still remains for us to cultivate individualistic mindsets and to let our personal preferences take priority over our corporate responsibilities. So to help us renew our minds about our role in the body and the importance of the unity of the body, I want to take at least this one Sunday to think about the unity of the church. We will be in Ephesians 4:1-3, where we learn —
Our daily life in the church should be consistent with our eternal life with Christ.
I this passage we learn four directives for the unity of the church. These aren’t suggestions. They are commands. And they relate directly to our salvation and our position in Christ.
- Live Worthy of Christ’s Calling (v. 1)
- Cultivate Attitudes of Christlikeness (v. 2a)
- Patiently Love Christ’s People (v. 2b)
- Preserve the Unity of Christ’s Body (v. 3)
- Some Principles for Re-Gathering Christ’s Church
Download the rest of this sermon on Ephesians 4:1-3.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.