Reach for Clearer Understanding
If you’ve been hanging around since the beginning of the year, our Journey to Unity has taken us on a deep study of what it means to have unity as the Body of Christ. For me, it’s been a slow unpacking of ideas from Francis Chan’s book, Until Unity, that hopefully are building on each other to form a clear picture of what unity actually means and what it looks like.
My prayer is that by the time we’re finished with this study, Women of the Way will have a clearer understanding of how to pursue unity as the Body of Christ.
The next bite-sized chunk, then, is discussing the mission of the Church.
Without unity, we cannot complete our mission.
Without a clear mission, we won’t have true unity.
Unity and the mission of the Church are intricately interconnected with each other. They are so closely tied together that it’s difficult to determine where one begins and the other ends. It’s almost as if our mission and our unity are two sides of the same coin.
What exactly is our mission?
There are probably as many definitions of the Church’s mission as there are church denominations. But, I think the simplest statement of our mission is that God would be glorified through everyone being one with Him. You can call it many different things- Building the Kingdom, Spreading the Gospel, Getting people saved, The Great Commission.
Jesus put it this way-
“that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me….I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:21, 23John 17:21,23
How we accomplish this is another story for another day. But for now, here are 3 things necessary in order for us to accomplish this vital mission:
It requires all members to do their part
We know from Ephesians 4 all Christians are members of the Body of Christ, and every single one of us has a purpose, a function, and a calling to bring about the mission of Jesus. We also are admonished to “ make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Eph 4:3.
The writer of Ephesians also tells us “to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith (emphasis mine) and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” Eph 4:12-13
Francis Chan explains it this way….
Paul’s point here aligns so closely with Jesus’ prayer in John 17. He’s saying that we need every member of the Body if we are going to function the way God designed us to. Disunity isn’t just ugly; it makes us dysfunctional. We cannot be the presence and force in the world that God intended if we’re actively jettisoning essential parts of our Body.Francis Chan
Until Unity, pg 95
See how our mission and our unity are intricately interconnected?
See how easily both unity and mission can unravel?
If we’re not working together in our God-given callings, our lack of unity will prevent others from being drawn to Him.
It requires the Power of the Holy Spirit
If we think, for even a second, that we can get this done on our own, we are deceiving ourselves. Don’t forget- apart from Jesus, we can do nothing! We’re just too flawed and too selfish as humans to pursue unity and fulfill God’s great purpose apart from the Power of the Holy Spirit.
But that’s the beauty of it…..
When people see how much we love each other and how much we work together because we are family, then they will see…. they will sense……they will know, there’s something supernatural to it, and they will want to be part of it! It’s only going to happen with Holy Spirit working through us!
I keep referencing Francis Chan because he says it so succinctly:
A common mission brings oneness. We need to keep our eyes on the mission and realize that we need each other if we’re going to pull this off. Above all, we need empowerment of God’s Spirit. So, when we compromise on unity, we’re cutting ourselves off from the power of the Spirit and thereby undermining our mission.”Until Unity, p95.
It requires us to keep focused on the mission.
Again, a common mission bring oneness. So, staying focused on the goal despite differences will keep us on track.
Remembering we all want the same outcome will keep us unified even when we go about it varying ways.
Chan explains, “Once we take our eyes off our calling and look at ourselves or each other, conflicts can start creeping in.” pg81 and “The more we neglect our mission, the less change we have of seeing true unity.” pg80
Thinking we have the only way to get it done, competition, ego, pride…..any of these controlling attitudes, personal agendas, or evil desires take the focus off the real mission causing unity to evaporate. At best, it’s an uphill battle that sucks the life out of our efforts. No one will be drawn to that!
Two Sides of the Same Coin
Equally pursuing two sides of the same coin of our mission and our unity through the power of the Holy Spirit will certainly draw all people into oneness with God.
How do you think we can actually accomplish this?
How are you contributing both the mission and the unity?
What’s keeping us apart?
Leave a comment here or head over to the Facebook group where the discussion continues!