Embracing God’s Amazing Unity

Philemon - Love changes everything

Reflecting on God’s Call for Unity of His Church

Unity is at the heart of Tyler’s message and in that message lies a profound truth: God calls His Church to be one unified body, transcending boundaries and affiliations. As members of Lakeview Christian Church in Portage Lakes, this call resonates deeply within us. It’s not merely about our local congregation; it’s about embracing our identity as Christ’s Church, united in purpose and love.

Drawing from the upcoming series on the book of Philemon, Tyler highlights the overarching theme of Love That Changes Everything. It is this love that creates unity no matter individual differences. This echoes our mission at Lakeview—to change lives through Jesus’s love. It’s a reminder that it’s not our efforts but Jesus’s love that transforms hearts and communities.

Scripture affirms the truth of unity. In Ephesians 4:4-6, Paul writes, “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” This unity is not just a nice sentiment; it’s a divine mandate.

So, what does it mean for us, as members of Lakeview Christian Church? It means we embrace unity not only within our congregation but also with the wider body of believers. It means we confront areas where we personally fall short of God’s call to love and unity, seeking reconciliation and healing.

As we delve into the book of Philemon, let’s invite God to transform our hearts with His love. Let’s commit to following Jesus through Just 3: Study, Share, and Serve, leading to greater unity as we get further invested.

Study: Be united with God by diving deep into God’s Word, seeking understanding and wisdom. Let’s explore the teachings of Philemon together, allowing God to speak to us through His Scriptures.

Share: This starts by going through life with one another, that we share day-to-day moments with others and count on fellow believers to be there for us when life has its inevitable ups and downs as we should be there for them. This love for one another will then lead to the sharing of the message of love and unity with others. Let’s be intentional about inviting friends, family, and neighbors to join us in this journey of faith and unity.

Serve: Put love and unity into action through service. Let’s look for opportunities to serve one another and our community, embodying the love of Christ in tangible ways.

All of these are motivated by the ultimate act of love—Jesus laying down His life for us. Let’s reflect on the love that changed everything, a love we didn’t deserve but received freely. This act reunited us with the Father!

Unity through Forgiveness

In the book of Philemon, we see a powerful example of unity through forgiveness and reconciliation. Philemon, a leader in the Colossian church, is asked by Paul to forgive and welcome back his runaway slave, Onesimus, who has since become a Christian. This letter is a profound call to live out the unity that comes from being part of the body of Christ.

Philemon 1:15-16 says, “For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.” Paul’s appeal is grounded in the new relationship they share in Christ. This challenges us to view each other not through the lens of societal roles or past grievances, but through the love and unity we have in Jesus.

Forgiveness is a crucial element of unity. As Colossians 3:13 urges, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” In our church, we must practice this forgiveness daily, letting go of past hurts and choosing to love each other as Christ loves us. This is not always easy, but it is essential for maintaining the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Unity through Diversity

Another aspect of unity is embracing diversity within the body of Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12-14 reminds us, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.”

At Lakeview Christian Church, we are blessed with a diverse congregation. Each person brings unique gifts, perspectives, and experiences that enrich our community. Embracing this diversity means recognizing that every member has a vital role to play in the body of Christ. It means celebrating our differences while remaining united in our mission to change lives through Jesus’s love.

Unity in diversity also requires humility and a willingness to listen to one another. James 1:19 advises, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” By listening and valuing each other’s viewpoints, we create an environment where everyone feels respected and included.

Unity through Prayer

Prayer is a powerful tool for fostering unity. In John 17:20-23, Jesus prays for all believers, asking for unity: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

Jesus’s prayer highlights the importance of unity among believers as a testimony to the world. As a church, we should regularly come together in prayer, seeking God’s guidance and strength to maintain our unity. Prayer helps us align our hearts with God’s will and reminds us that our unity is founded on our relationship with Him.

Practical Steps for Fostering Unity

To cultivate unity in our church, we must be intentional in our actions. Here are some practical steps we can take:

  1. Building Relationships: Spend time with fellow church members outside of regular services. Invite someone for coffee, join a small group, or participate in church events. Building strong relationships helps create a sense of family and belonging.
  2. Encouraging One Another: Hebrews 10:24-25 encourages us, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Let’s be intentional about encouraging and supporting each other in our faith journeys.
  3. Resolving Conflicts Biblically: When conflicts arise, address them with grace and love. Follow the principles outlined in Matthew 18:15-17 for resolving disputes. Approach the person privately, seek reconciliation, and involve others only if necessary.
  4. Serving Together: Engage in service projects that benefit our community. Working side by side strengthens bonds and allows us to demonstrate Christ’s love in practical ways.
  5. Fostering a Welcoming Atmosphere: Make an effort to welcome newcomers and help them feel at home. Remember that our unity and love are a powerful witness to those seeking a church family.

Unity as a Witness to the World

Our unity as believers serves as a powerful testimony to the world. In John 13:34-35, Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” When we love and support each other, we reflect the love of Christ and draw others to Him.

In Acts 2:42-47, we see a beautiful picture of the early church living in unity: “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.”

This passage demonstrates the impact of a unified, loving community. As we strive to live out this example, we can trust that God will use our unity to draw others to Himself.

Conclusion

May this series on Philemon ignite a passion for unity and love within our hearts and our church community. Let’s embrace our calling as the unified body of Christ, committed to changing lives through His love. Together, let’s live out the mission of Lakeview Christian Church in Portage Lakes—changing lives through Jesus’s love. #Bethechange #united

Unity is not just an ideal; it’s a command from our Savior and a reflection of His love. As we study, share, and serve together, let’s strive to embody the unity that Jesus prayed for and that Paul exhorted us to maintain. Let’s be the church that reflects the love and unity of Christ, so that all may know we are His disciples.

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