Unity Starts with U (You)
There is a reason that one of the last things Jesus' prayed for before he was arrested was for unity for all believers. He knew we would struggle with this and knew we desperately needed the prayer.
"I am in them and you are in me.
May they experience such perfect unity
that the world will know that you sent me
and that you love them as much as you love me."
Unity starts with U (you) today.
We might think that we cannot change everyone.
But friend, we can start with ourselves. Today.
Whenever we are faced with an opportunity to
grumble, complain, gossip,
quarrel, respond in anger, respond with hostility,
back-talk, share a post/meme that we know creates division, etc. -
choose to quickly PRAY instead.
Do I Even Need To Say This?
First, we need to ask God for wisdom on whether what we want to share needs to even be said in the first place? Unfortunately, most of our arguments with one another are not about the Gospel truth but are instead about what Paul calls "disputable matters" (Romans 14:1). The Bible is clear about such arguments; don't do it.
2 Timothy 2:23
"Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights."
Romans 14:19-21 (MSG)
"So let’s agree to use all our energy in getting along with each other.
Help others with encouraging words; don’t drag them down by finding fault....
Don’t eat or say or do things that might interfere with the free exchange of love."
"When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God."
How Do I Say This?
Next, if we truly feel led by God, that what we want to share is in fact something that needs to be said, then continue to pray and ask God for wisdom on HOW best to share it.
The Bible gives us wisdom on this as well.
"Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church."
2 Timothy 4:2
"Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season;
correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction."
2 Timothy 2:23-25
"A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone,
be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.
Gently instruct those who oppose the truth.
Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth."
Speaking the truth in love, patiently and gently is the way we are to approach a difficult conversation.
Recognizing Our Need For Change
Many times, our arguments or words of division happen in the heat of the moment.
How can we change our natural need to immediately fire back in a heated situation? Changes in our behavior and character do not happen overnight.
We will probably not suddenly wake up one day being a more patient, gentle and self-controlled person. But we have to start somewhere.
Galatians 5 talks about the fruits of the Spirit.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,
faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Against such things there is no law."
We can start by first asking God to show us where we need to do better.
There is always some area in life where we can do better.
Its very simple.
Ask Him. "Father, show me where I need to be more like you."
I know for me personally, there are plenty of places I am failing miserably.
But one area of mine in particular has always been patience.
And as I have asked Him, God has kept on showing me that I need to work on this.
God Is Longing To Help Us
Once we know that we are struggling in certain areas, we must accept that we need to change. We also need to acknowledge that we cannot change by our strength alone.
We need God's help.
Fortunately, when we ask Him, He will always help us.
"For God is working in you,
giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him."
"For we are God’s masterpiece.
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus,
so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."
We cannot do it alone. But through Christ, nothing is impossible.
He can and will help us. He will give us the strength, the desire and the ability to do His will.
Ask Him, friend!
Every Interaction Matters
Let us make it a practice in our daily prayer life to ask God to help us be more like Him everyday; a champion for unity. To help us live out each and every one of the fruits of the Spirit in every situation we face in life - big and small, significant and insignificant. Because every interaction matters.
From the way we interact with
our church family,
the drivers we meet on the road,
the people we meet at the grocery store,
the servers we meet at restaurants,
the employees we meet at stores,
the customer service representatives we talk to over the phone, etc.
Every interaction we have is an opportunity to show God's love
and be His light in a dark world.
The next time that we face a situation where we are about to speak divisively - let us PRAY.
Let us plead with God to help intercede by giving us strength and wisdom and then let us choose to do what God wants us to do, despite what our flesh is crying out for.
"For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit,
and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.
They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want."
Unity might seem like a lofty goal.
But Jesus prayed for it for us.
Unity is something each and every one of us need to aim for, pray for and actively work towards. We each play a part in it everyday, in different ways, despite what we think.
We are each a part of the body.
Let us do out part whenever we are faced with any opportunity.
We might think that we cannot change everyone.
But friend, we can start with us.
Ask God for a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
Ask God to help show us His love.
When we truly start to grasp the magnitude of God's infinite grace-filled love for us,
our hearts will automatically overflow with love for others. We will not be able to help it!
Let it start with us, friends.
Today and everyday, let us ask how can we be more:
Let Us Ask God To Help Us
Everyday, let us ask God to show us how we can be more like Him.
Let us then listen to what He is trying to tell us.
And finally, let us ask Him for the strength, courage and wisdom to live it out boldly.
We cannot do it alone.
But, thank God, we are never alone!
We are each infinitely loved by our Father and Creator.
Remember, unity starts with you today.
"Be completely humble and gentle;
be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
There is one body and one Spirit,
just as you were called to one hope when you were called;"
"And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live.
Remember, he has identified you as his own,
guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander,
as well as all types of evil behavior.
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
just as God through Christ has forgiven you."