Tuesday, August 13, 2013

This week's lesson: unity

If you want unity, then you need to find yourself some troublemakers.

Consider three examples from this week's lesson -- examples of "how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity" (Psalm 133:1).

1. "In Acts 6, a small group of disciples met together to solve the problem of distribution of food to the widows of the Greek converts. They selected deacons to solve the dilemma. Church members respected the authority of these church leaders."

Yes, they did . . . after they'd kicked up such a fuss that church leaders were forced to respond. Then too, all of the deacons chosen were Hellenistic Jews -- the very group that  charged church leaders with favoritism. In short, unity came when church leaders were asked to share power.

2. "After Paul's baptism by Ananias, the Holy Spirit directed him to meet with the leaders of the church in Jerusalem in order to confirm his ministry."

Yes, he did . . . but those same leaders would have rejected Paul if Barnabas had not stood up for him -- and even then, Paul would have returned home and disappeared if Barnabas hadn't retrieved him from Tarsus and brought him to Antioch (Acts 9:26-29; 11:25-26). In short, unity came when church leaders were asked to reconsider their mistakes.

3. "The Jerusalem Council saved the first-century church from a serious schism. . . . Members accepted the decision of the Jerusalem Council and rejoiced that the Holy Spirit had guided them to an answer to their dilemma."

Yes, they did . . . but the Council would not have met to consider the ordination of women the baptism of Gentiles if local churches hadn't already begun this practice (Acts 15:1-2). In short, unity came when church leaders recognized that the world church needed to catch up with the Spirit's leading in local churches.
Unity is not uniformity, in other words. No, it is a messy, dynamic process that leads to unity with God . . . 

Even though it may put us at odds with each other.

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