I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to have a walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3, NKJV).
[Thought questions for The Bond of Revival August 14, 2013]
1. Unity: a vital ingredient. What is the opposite of unity? If you want to write a novel, how important is conflict in your plot? Can you enjoy a story devoid of conflict? If you could delete all the conflict from the Bible, what would be left? Is conflict a given in this sinful world? Can we manage to experience the joy of Christian unity in the midst of conflict raging around us? How?
2. Jesus’ prayer. John 17 is known as the greatest prayer ever spoken. After reading this chapter carefully, do you agree? What were some of the ways the disciples demonstrated unity as they assembled the elements of the Christian church? Do you ever pray for unity in your family? What about children who no longer live under the same roof as you. Do you long for unity with them in your worship of God? Or, if that unity is present, how do you show your deep-felt appreciation?
3. Illustrations of Unity. Jesus the Master of peace was continually surrounded by conflict, fighting, arguing, and deadly plots. Why did such a peaceful person generate so much strife? Can you imagine building a new church without a blueprint, a plan, for its construction? How do the fingers of your hand, the bones and muscles of your body, or your digestive system demonstrate the concept of Christian unity? What can you do to encourage more true unity in your local church? Get everyone to agree with you? Agree with everyone else? Say nothing?
4. Mission and Message in Unity. How should you and I respond when we encounter religious beliefs that are starkly different from ours? Can we show our unity even as we are challenged? Is the mission of the church in the twenty-first century the same as it was in the first century after Christ? How important is belief in the Second Coming in creating a sense of unity among us?
5. Church Organization. Do you ever hear a fellow church member complain about the organizational structure of the church? Do you ever sympathize with those complaints? Or come up with your own? Can we follow the example of the Jerusalem Council in solving conflicts over issues such as following or ignoring the church manual, budgeting, church music, over control by the head leader, or issues of diet, Sabbath-keeping or entertainment? Should we sit back and be as uninvolved as possible, or should we pray for opportunities to contribute to a more unified organization of the church?
6. How to do it. Can a fighting, arguing group of Christians spread the gospel effectively? Should there always be total agreement on everything related to the church? What role does Christian love play in helping church members get along with each other and work in harmony to tell others of God’s love? What can you do to bring that love right into your home church so that you may disagree over the color of paint in the lobby without sacrificing one whit of God-given unity and love?
7. Bringing it all together. Are we as close to Jesus as we’d like to be? What forces or issues are keeping us separated? Is God pleased when major disagreements stir up dissent in the church? How can we cooperate with God to put all of us on an equal footing before God and move ahead as the Holy Spirit leads us?