Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Brick Building - Section Nine - Unity


The previous section of this series noted the importance of getting dressed spiritually. 

Today is our final section in this series. This is where we finally see the brick wall coming together. 


We can spend our entire lives allowing God to develop us into this beautiful stone/brick, but without other bricks and mortar to hold us all together what is our purpose. We were meant to be joined together with other believers in order to build us into the Body of Christ which is the church. The physical building may be the geographical location where we meet and even where we are protected from the elements of weather, but flesh and bones are joined together by Jesus Christ to form the actual church. Without people in the structure, it is just a brick building like all other buildings. Jesus Christ is the foundation, the cornerstone and the mortar that holds all the spiritual bricks/believers together. He is the firm base, central focus of all things, He is foundational and pivotal, He is the reason for the church! So we are brought together in UNITY by Jesus.

Ephesians 2:20-22 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Peter 2:4-8 As you come to him, the living Stone...you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood … For in Scripture it says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone…  Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,” and, "a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." They stumble because they disobey the message.

As each of us do our part to grow up in our salvation, which was discussed in all of the prior sections of this series, each of us become a part of the temple that Christ is building. As each of us learn to put on all that we are told to put on, we are learning to dress ourselves spiritually. As we learn to take up our shield of faith, and as we are trained to use our offensive weapon which is the word of God; we are learning to stand by our brothers and sister in Christ, and we are learning to form a wall so strong that the gates of hell will not be able to come against it. There is a formation called the Phalanx- (travelling wall) which gives us a physical example of what this should look like in the spiritual realm.

The phalanx was a formation used in battle. It was highly organized and done in a disciplined manner. Soldiers stood shoulder-to-shoulder, the shields overlapped each other, forming a WALL with their shields and protecting each other. A phalanx could be as many as eight rows deep, when moving in formation, they were nearly unstoppable as long as their rear and flanks were protected. One movie that demonstrates this is Prince Caspian The enemy uses the formation. Reepicheep, a small warrior mouse, finds a small hole to penetrate the fortress or PHALANX. (I love this entire series of movies - definitely worth watching)

In our responsibility to the body of believers, let's get our spiritual armor on, lock arms with one another and form an impenetrable wall with our shields of faith that the enemy cannot tear down. This wall can be a place of rest and healing for those that have been out in the battle and need time to be restored without more attacks from the enemy or even from within the ranks. Let’s do our part to get dressed so that many will be able to find a safe place to rest. 

Growing in Unity as a Community

Have you ever noticed that the word unity is the last part of community? One of the definitions of community is a unified body of individuals. So even the word community implies unity. Don't we all long for community? Let’s consider the scriptures when looking at how we might grow in unity as a body of believers.

• Romans 15:7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you,

• John 13:34-35 "A new command I give you: Love one another…  By this all men will know that you are my disciples.

• Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

• Ephesians 4:2-3 Unity in the Body of Christ … be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. …

• Ephesians 4:12-13 (Christ gave us leaders of the church to) prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature

• Ephesians 4:14-16 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

This is where I see Jesus bringing each "brick" together and joining us to one another just as mortar glues one brick to another to build a brick wall. Christ is bringing us together in unity.

Living in Unity                                                                                  

Once we are brought together, we need to remain together. Keep in mind that each of us/bricks have some sharp edges. Those edges can be smoothed out as we rub up against other bricks. But our tendency is to run from the abrasiveness of others. We need to keep in mind that God may want to use that abrasive person in our life to smooth us out. As a sculptor chips away excess clay to create a masterpiece, so is our heavenly Father chipping away everything that doesn't resemble His Son to develop our character and carve us more into the image of Christ. Also, remember that we are someone else’s abrasive person as well. Look below at some scriptures to consider how we may maintain unity:
  • Psalms 133:1 dwell /live together in unity
  • Ephesians 4:3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace
  • Ephesians 4:3 KJV Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
  • Ephesians 4:3 NLT Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 
  • Ephesians 4:13 KJV Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ:
  • Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
  • Colossians 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
  • 2 Corinthians 3:13,18 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance/glory was fading away...  And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit
  • 2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJ But we all… are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory 
  • 1 Thess 5:11 so encourage each other and build each other up
  • 1 John 3 :14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.
  • John 13:34-35  "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
Keep in mind that unity is not uniformity. We can love, accept, consider and be patient with each other and still not be the same. Unity requires love and acceptance

Some attribute the following quote to Wesley and others to Augustine, but there seems to be some confusion to where it originated. I have read it in many different writings and am quoting it here because it applies.
  • In essentials- unity (agreement)
  • Non essentials- liberty (freedom)
  • In all things –charity (love)
Beth Moore has referred to the above quote when discussing what she labels as rib issues and spine issues in regards to Christian unity.  Meaning there are things that we must agree on to be in Christian fellowship called spine issues, but there are those issues that we can still be in fellowship with one another and disagree because they are rib issues. However, no matter what we believe, we should all interact with believers and non-believers in love.

Let's consider this warning and reminder to each of us:  Personal conviction does not automatically equal scriptural conviction.

Let’s not put our personal conviction on to others. The Holy Spirit convicts each of us of things we are to do or not do. These are personal to us. We should not use that as an opportunity to place these personal convictions on every other person around us. Based on each of our bents toward sin, it may not be an issue in the lives of others. So if God has prompted you to action or abstinence of an action, do not assume it is your responsibility to go forth and preach this to others. It is fine to share your testimony of it, but leave it there. God has not hired us as junior Holy Spirits. 

We need to keep our focus on God, be in God's Word, mature as believers in the faith, get dressed daily and walk in love and unity with other believers. Many things can get us distracted and off track as individuals and as a church body. When a church body gets off in the weeds and is no longer unified, focus gets off, purpose is forgotten and we loose sight of God's call for us. 
Remember we are to love, edify, encourage, and rebuke one another, but do it in love. We need to go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. We teach them to observe all Jesus commanded. 

Once we lose our focus and get sidetracked with disunity, we are no longer well enough to GO and do these things. The world needs to see our love for one another, they need us to be unified so they will know that we are Jesus’ followers. We need to be in unity in order to become that mighty fortress, place of sanctuary for the weary souls, and a barrier against the enemy from hell that wants to kill, steal and destroy us all. This is why the enemy spends so much time trying to cause disunity in the church. If he can get us to turn on each other instead of loving one another, and bearing with one another; he knows it will be a stumbling block for non-believers and delay or prevent them from coming to Jesus.

So for the sake of the lost world, for the sake of yourselves and mine; let’s grow up into our salvation and grow in unity as believers. In doing so, we will see lives transformed and revival of a nation and the world. We will see “GOD's will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Amen!

In wrapping up this series of posts, see the following post: The Simplicity of the Gospel

Brick Building Section Two-Immaturity
Brick Building Section Three
Brick Building Section Four - Cooperating with the Holy Spirit
Brick Building Section Five - Prayer
Brick Building - Section Six - Believe/Faith
Brick Building - Section Seven - The Word
Brick Building - Section Eight- Learning to Dress Yourself

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