The Challenge of Unity (Part 3)

Ministry can be a tug of war … often local churches struggle with different factions pulling against one another for the leadership of the agenda of their church. Sometimes it looks like this …

1) First, there is the pastor pulling in the direction that he believes God is calling them to;

2) Then there is the leadership board that thinks their job is to tell the pastor what to do;

3) Often there is a small but powerful group of people trying to control the church;

4) And then, sometimes, there is something wrong with the congregation and simply don’t want to do anything.

What happens when all of this is going on at once? Yes, that’s it – nothing happens! There is a lot of energy being expended, but nothing good happens – and, in fact, people get injured and tired and simply drop out!

As we have said, unity is impossible when everyone has to have their own way! In essence, this is one of the biggest challenges of the church! We have to pull together if we want to get something incredible done!

So, what causes different people within the congregation to pull in different directions? We have already talked about:

Challenge #1: Selfishness

  • We have said in part 1 that unity happens when we point people to their calling, Ephesians 4:1-8.

Challenge #2: Immaturity

  • In part 2, we noted that unity happens when we grow people into Christ-likeness, Ephesians 4:11-16.

And now …

Challenge #3:WORLDLINESS

Worldliness connects with immaturity (Challenge #2) so closely! Look at the evidences of worldliness that are listed in this chapter…

1)   We think like the people on the television (Ephesians 4:17-18)

2)   We enjoy sensual programming – especially sitcoms and Hollywood update shows (Ephesians 4:19)

3)   We are excited when invited to party (Ephesians 4:19)

  • Ephesians 4:17-24 teaches us that unity happens when we move people out of the world.

There are four specific ways we can help move people out of the world. Paul tells us …

“Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.” Ephesians 4:17

In other words,

1)   We must help them change the way they think.

How do we help people change the way they think? Understanding their condition helps us understand the method we will need to undertake. Paul says,

“They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.” Ephesians 4:18-19

Because of their condition listed in these verses …

2)   We must help them change their distance from God.

But how do we help them do this?

3)   We must help them put off the old self.

But that is not the way you learned Christ! — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires … Ephesians 4:20-22

What you ‘wear’ indicates what you think. Where you look is where you go. Our task is to help them put away those old patterns of life that are damaging and detrimental to a walk with God.

What else do they need to do to be moved out of the world? We are told that they are …

“… to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:23-24

4)   We must help them put on the new self.

This ‘new self is made up of (1) Right living (we find that in the Bible) and (2) Holiness (which indicates an absence of being dirty – to stay clean you have to stay out of the dirt and filth of this world and take frequent cleansings – 1 John 1.9). We help people by moving them out of the world and into the spiritual world.

Unity is all about being on the same team, pulling in the same direction. In order for this to happen, we must all be in the same world … with an intimate spiritual connection to Jesus Christ. These are lifestyle changes born out of a life with God and his family and its the leader’s responsibility to help others move into these changes.

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