5. The secret to Christian strength and unity is found in submission.
Submitting to one another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:21).
To submit means to give in. to another. You and I have a disagreement on some issue, and, unless the issue is a major deal-breaker with key issues at stake, the stronger gives in to the weaker.
Don’t miss that. Only the strong can give in. The weak one will dig his heels in and refuse to budge. It takes strength to humble oneself and great strength to submit to one weaker than himself.
That’s the reverse of human strategies, to be sure. Nothing new about that; 99 percent of what the Lord requires of us is exactly the opposite of what the world would do. We gain our life by losing it; we become great by serving; we live by dying.
For I say through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith (Romans 12:3).
In lowliness of mind, let each esteem others better than himself (Philippians 2:3).
This is what servants do. Anyone want to be a servant?
Our Lord emphasized repeatedly that the way to greatness in the kingdom is by servanthood. See Matthew 20:25-28 (My favorite on this subject, Luke 17:7-10, is unique to Luke’s gospel. Its conclusion – “we are unprofitable servants; we have only done what we should” – is the attitude that sets His servants apart.).
Once when our church was in the process of bringing in a new minister to lead the discipleship and education work, I asked members if they would commit to support him and follow his leadership. One man who had given me nothing but trouble during the years I’d served there, answered, “I will, so long as I agree with the direction he’s taking us.”
Study that a moment. He would follow the man’s leadership so long as he was already going that way.
But put himself under the authority of someone with whom he might disagree? He would not bring himself to that. (That man and his family did not remain with us, but bounced around in several other churches, apparently in search of the perfect minister, one with whom he was always in agreement.)
Our individualism may be our strength, church member. But it’s also our weakness. We have “turned every one to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6), and it has severely weakened the Lord’s work in our world.
Unity is a major factor in the effectiveness of any program or ministry. Disunity halts a work in its tracks.
"Endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace," is how Paul expressed our challenge (Ephesians 4:3).
Before His arrest and crucifixion, our Lord said to the Father, "I pray…that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that You sent Me" (John 17:20-21).
The world is not going to believe in Jesus by the testimony of a divided church.
The key to unity is loving, obeying disciples who gladly give up their rights to their way for the good of the Lord’s work.
Slow and Steady
You’ll not rescue that ailing church by nightfall, pastor. Be steadfast and faithful. Keep on keeping on, as the old-timers used to say.
Keep the basic principles of Christ-following in front of your people. Preach that Jesus is Lord and we are to obey and honor Him.
Tell them over and over again, until it sticks. That will happen one person at a time, not everyone at once. So, encourage those who are awakening and beginning to grow. Stay with it long enough and you will have a good corps of faithful believers on which to build a healthy church.
In the meantime, steady as she goes.
This article originally appeared on joemckeever.com. Used with permission.