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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Does Your Church Lack Unity?

The Church has always sought unity. It has rarely had it. We find it in the beginning but it doesn't take long before factions have caused conflict in the Church. The Hellenistic Jews complained that their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. I wonder if the Hebraic Jews looked down on these Hellenistic Jews. The Apostles knew that this conflict needed to be solved quickly and appointed Deacons to serve the tables.

Unfortunately, many Deacons don't see their role as problems solvers, servants or those who bring unity. They think of themselves as regular members. Today they can be the instigators of disunity. Why is that?

Paul indicates in his letter to the Ephesians that unity is the product of service and maturity. It seems that everyone in church has a responsibility. We are gifted to serve. We are expected to serve. We are unified when we work together.

Understanding what brings unity reveals what causes disunity. The lack of service and maturity creates disunity in the church. There can be service without maturity but maturity guarantees service. The ultimate problem within the church is not the lack of service but the lack of maturity.
I suppose this should not shock anyone. Many of the people within the church are immature. They do not understand spiritual reasoning. They are unaware of their own involvement in disunity. In fact, they often hide in the shadows and get others to become their spokesmen. They use other immature people who can't discern the immaturity of others.

Immaturity is using fleshly excuses to work against the unity of the church. It is seen when someone complains of the lack of service he is receiving. It is perpetuated by those who don't see the immaturity in the complaints of other immature people.
For example, years ago I was in a Deacons' meeting when someone brought up a complaint by a member of the church. The member had stopped coming to church and was complaining that no one had contacted him. He started missing church to pursue a hobby. Eventually, he stopped coming altogether. He felt validated in his complaint to the church because of the lack of contact.

I said, "You mean to tell me that this man quit coming on his own and complains because no one came to get him to come back? What would happen to the church if half of our members did that? Wouldn't the other half have to work at getting them to come back? Wouldn't we drop all evangelistic efforts just to get our old members to come back? Wouldn't we have to drop all other ministries to our community? Why hasn't this vacant member repented of his absence and come back on his own? We are not responsible for running him off. He must take responsibility for his absence or very soon immature members will quickly learn what it takes to get attention. Immaturity is the same at every age."

Half of the Deacons didn't understand a word I had said. You know why.

That is why we must constantly work at seeing our churches mature. That is why the leadership in a church must be filled with mature Christians. Otherwise, we can expect disunity.

Immaturity and disunity go hand in hand.

Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV)
11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

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