Preparing the Ground
Before we can create a quality building of unity, or before we can even lay a foundation of unity, we must prepare the ground for unity.
Before a brick is laid or the frame set, the ground has to be prepared. It must be cleared of any debris- trees, bushes, rocks, junk-anything that will hinder the Builder from completing the structure. Just like when a house is constructed, the bulldozer comes in to clear away anything that will obstruct progress.
Also, if the land isn’t level, the ground must be shifted in order to even things out, digging until there’s a smooth surface, moving rocks or stumps until the ground is prepared on which to build. You can’t even begin to build a house until the ground is prepared. It’s the same way for building unity.
Preparing the ground for unity means we must start with repentance.
John the Baptist told the people of Israel to prepare the way for the Messiah by preparing their hearts through repentance. Isaiah even prophesied about John and his call to preparing the way.
As it is written in the book of Isaiah the prophet,
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,[a]
make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways,
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”
Can’t you see John the Baptist rolling up in a big bulldozer saying “Repent! Clear out anything that will keep you from receiving Christ!!”
In our case, let’s clear the ground and tear down anything that will keep us from building unity!
To get started, here are 3 areas we , as the Body of Christ, need to repent:
Repentance of Loyalty
Sometimes, we are more loyal to our belief system or way of thinking than we are to Jesus Christ. Sometimes, we are more loyal to our church affiliation than we are to seeking the truth. And sometimes, we are more loyal to the way we were raised rather than on worshipping Jesus in spirit and truth. John the Baptist, Paul, and even Jesus confronted the Jews about being more concerned with their family heritage as descendants of Abraham rather than repenting and following Jesus Christ.
When we are more loyal to our ideologies, it creates in us strong biases and an unwillingness to bend. When we are certain that our way is the right way, we stomp out any possibility to learn something from someone else.
Unity cannot be built if we are more loyal to our tribe or camp than we are for the desire to build unity.
Repentance of Lack of Humility
I’m sure you know why a very large tree can often withstand a very strong storm. It sways in the wind. It’s flexible.
A lack of humility is like a tree that isn’t flexible. It’s defensive pride staunchly stands against a storm which will cause it to break from the strong winds.
Our lack of humility is pride with an unwillingness to listen or discuss. A lack of humility will cause us to have an unteachable spirit which results in an unwillingness to learn anything new or listen to anyone with anything different to say. I’m not proposing that you can’t have your own perspective, conviction, or point of view. Rather, a lack of humility will prevent you from being open to listening and to dialogue. Unity can’t grow when there’s an unwillingness to bend or sway in the conversation of many ideas.
Again, I’m not suggesting give up what you believe to be correct for the sake of getting along. But, you’ve got to be humble enough to think that you don’t have all the answers, and you can listen to another person’s ideas.
Repentance of Careless Words
With our words, we can bless or we can curse. With our words, we can cut or we can heal.
With our words, we can build up or we can tear down. What we speak overflows from what is actually in our hearts.
If you find yourself speaking words that are more critical than encouraging, then unity will not grow. Ask yourself why. You need to discover the stumps, rocks, and debris lurking in the soil of your heart. Repent of them by asking God to remove any attitude that is not like Christ.
A Place to Start
Only after we ask God to level the ground of our hearts and repent of loyalty, lack of humility, and careless words, then unity can be built. I’m sure there are many others sins of the heart of which we need to repent. But these few are a start.
Once we prepare the way, only then can we build a Kingdom that will draw others to Christ.
Next time, we’re actually going to start discussing those building blocks to unity. I’m ready to discover what they are. I’m ready to build unity with you.
One way we can do that is to pray. Will you join me for prayer on Monday, Aug 1 at 7pm central to pray with other believers for unity?
Hope to see you there!