Thursday, September 18, 2008

Essential Unity

Christ and the local church are essential areas of focus for every believer. It is only through the vehicle of the local church that God’s will can be accomplished in the earth. An individual is called and can accomplish great things for Christ on his own, but he can only go so far. When one person adds his calling to that of each individual in his local church in unity, he can accomplish much greater things. His calling is not just added to or even just multiplied. It is increased exponentially. “One can put a thousand to flight, two can put ten thousand to flight.” That is an exponential increase! When he is unified with His fellow believers God commands a blessing of “life forevermore.” When he is gathered with his fellow believers God is in their midst. In the context of his local body, strength is added to him and he receives spiritual protection. A single string can be easily cut or ripped apart, but a “three-strand cord is not easily broken.”

Love is the glue that binds us together in unity to form harmony – loving God with all our hearts, souls, minds, strength, and loving our neighbors, in this case our fellow believers, as ourselves. Without love we are loud, harsh, and dissonant, like clanging cymbals. A single musical note can be heard, but is virtually meaningless on its own. When that note is joined with complimentary notes, there is harmony. Those notes and harmonies join together to form a song and a sound that can invade men’s hearts so that the message of the song is easily received. Think of an orchestra. When each musician plays her instrument in cooperation with her fellow musicians, under the guidance of the sheet music and the leading of the conductor, a beautiful melody is produced. However, when each musician plays his own thing, the sound is dissonant, harsh, loud, and ugly. It is difficult to listen to and causes the listener to cover his ears. Without love and harmony, the listener is not open to the message of the music.

In a military unit, each soldier must work in unity with his fellow troops if he expects to survive in battle. They must follow the instructions of their commander or face defeat. If even just one soldier acts on his own, the mission will most likely fail. Soldiers must trust and rely on each other to accomplish their goals and see their missions succeed. On an athletic team, the strengths of each individual player are combined and enhanced so that the team is able to defeat its opponents. Even if the team is composed of the greatest individual players in the world, if they do not work together, they will be defeated (the 2004 USA Olympic basketball team comes to mind).

In the context of the local church body, life flows into the individual through his fellow believers as “each joint supplies”. In the local body his gift is joined with that of others with similar gifting, until each cell is joined together to form tissues, and each tissue is joined together to form organs, and each organ is joined together to form several body parts, and each body part is joined together to form one body. A hand is composed of many cells that are bound together to form tissues. Those tissues join together to form bone, blood vessels, muscles, cartilage, tendons, nerves, and skin. Each of these comes together to make a hand, and together they can move many things. However each of these things on their own, while quite remarkable, can accomplish very little in comparison. It is the unification of these parts, in cooperation with many other parts, that allows me to type this essay, or pick up a glass or water, or pound a nail into a wall to build a house, etc. The hand receives it’s supply of blood, lymph, and nerve signals from the forearm, the forearm from the elbow, the elbow from the upper arm, the upper arm from the shoulder, and so on. Those other parts of the arm are essential for the health of the hand. If the hand is cut off from the arm, it will die, along with each cell of which it is composed. Without our fellow believers we will die spiritually.

It is up to God, our commander to decide which instrument we are to play in the orchestra, our role in the unit, our position on the team, where we fit in the makeup of the body. He places each one in the body “as He sees fit.” It is up to us to unite with those around us to accomplish our mission, His Kingdom purposes, throughout the earth. Each of us has needs that must be met, but if our focus is only on the meeting of our own needs then we will accomplish very little. If we lift our focus to Christ first and the needs of His body, working in love and unity with those with whom He has joined us, our needs will automatically be met through the life that flows to us through the body as each joint supplies. So do not worry about what you need. God is well aware of our needs – He created us, after all. If we seek first His Kingdom, all these things we need, and more, will be given to us as His will, not our own, is accomplished in the earth.

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