Three Things the New Pastor Wants Most
- Monday, July 21, 2008
What this means, of course, is that a key ingredient in unity is maturity, one aspect of which is the ability to appreciate all views on a subject and to find the appropriate action for a situation. Immaturity fears dissent and panics at the first sign of a disagreement.
Christian unity finds its strength in each member of the body being true to his assignment.
LOVE: Ephesians 4:25-32
"Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. He who steals must steal no longer.... Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth.... Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption... Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you."
Interestingly, the word "love" is not found in that passage. And yet all the actions Paul commands of the Ephesians comprise the very definition of love. In the Scriptures, we recall, love is never an emotion but always an action.
Love is something we do.
So, what does love in a congregation do? Love tells the truth, controls its anger, works instead of steals, speaks kindly, is kind, sweet-spirited, and forgiving.
Turn it around, then, and ask, "When love is missing, what do we find?" The answer is here, to Lies, rage, stealing, harshness, ugliness, mean-spiritedness, and lack of forgiveness. All of these grieve the Holy Spirit and bring our effectiveness to a grinding halt.
In his commentary on Ephesians, Kent Hughes tells of a rancorous church fight which drove both sides to lawsuits in a public court. The judge threw out the suits and urged them to take the matter to a church court of their denomination. There, the panel decided in favor of one side and ordered the other group out of the facilities altogether. That group went across town and started a church of their own.
Hughes reports that the church court was able to go back and find the very beginnings of the dispute: at a church dinner, one of the elders was upset because a child sitting next to him received a larger slice of ham.
Just so are churches split, the cause of Christ slandered, the mission fields neglected, and God's people diverted from service.
If a key element in unity is maturity, we suggest a key ingredient in love is humility. To love is to put people at least on an equal level with ourselves, if not above.
Actually, love is the glue that bonds the church in unity. Love for Christ and love for each other. There's a tiny line in Colossians 2:2 that reads: "their hearts having been knit together in love." It's the same verb Paul uses in Ephesians 4:16 and means "joined together" the way the ligaments and tendons hold the joints of the body together.
That's what love does, knit us together and hold us there. There will be a lot of movement in this body, so the ties have to be strong.
PRAYER: Ephesians 6:18-20
"With all prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak."
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