It’s been a while since we looked at the Jerusalem church. I want to get back to their success. Their first key was being devoted to God. Now we are examining their unity. Acts 4:32 says the congregation was of one heart and one soul. We have also examined why unity is so important based on Philippians 1:29-30. Today, we continue our look by examining how we can have this unity in a congregation. Philippians 1:27-2:11 provides 4 Keys to Congregational Unity.
1. Members must personally conduct themselves in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel (Philippians 1:27).
This is really a no-brainer. If we are all walking hand in hand with Christ, then we will all walk hand in hand with one another. But notice the responsibility here. I need to work on me. Instead of spending my time trying to get you to walk in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel, I need to work on my walk. Looking at Ephesians 4:1-3 can help me with my walk.
2. We must stand firm and strive together with one mind against the proper opponents (Philippians 1:27-28).
Too many churches have disunity because the members are striving with one another. Sadly, we can find innumerable things to argue about if we don’t try too hard not to. Perhaps because we aren’t in the midst of persecution it is hard for us to recognize who the proper opponents are. But it is not one another.
However, there is another part of this. Not only must we not strive with one another, we must learn to stand firm and strive against the real opponents. Too many churches don’t want to stand for anything. It is modern and hip to act like nothing matters these days. “We accept everything and everybody” can be seen on church signs and billboards across the land. But that won’t produce a real unity in a church. That will only produce a social club sweeping everything under the rug. We need to stand for what God stands for or we’ll fall with the devil.
3. We must be of the same mind, love, spirit, and purpose (Philippians 2:2, NASB).
Paul highlights four issues that help with unity in this simple statement. There is some overlap, but it is good to see each issue of unity.
Same mind–“Mind the same things” (KJV). That is have the same standard–God’s word.
Same love–We must all have the same standard of love–God’s love (I John 4:11). Further, we must love all with that same standard (James 2:1ff).
Same spirit–We must be of one accord (KJV). That is, as all the different members of a body are directed by the same spirit to accomplish the same action, we as different members of the body are working together to accomplish the same actions (cf. I Corinthians 12:12; Ephesians 4:15-16).
Same purpose: We must be going the same place, accomplishing the same goals.
4. We must put others first (Philippians 2:3-11).
Now we get to the hard stuff. Do nothing from selfish ambition. Quit trying to put self forward. Instead, put others forward. Let them have the honor. Let them be important. Don’t merely look out for your own interests, but primarily look out for the interests of others. Let them have the preeminence. Isn’t that exactly what the Jerusalem disciples were doing when Luke recorded their unity of heart and soul in Acts 4:32? They were selling their own possessions so their needy brethren could be cared for. That is putting others first.
Churches need unity. But unity takes work. Unity takes work from me. I need to quit waiting around for someone else to develop the unity in my congregation. I need to work on me so we can have unity. How about you? Do you need to do any work?
What do you do to help with the unity of your congregation? Click the following link to add your input: Click here.
This was part 14 in my series on the Jerusalem church. For an index of the series, click here. I’ll continue this series soon by looking at the next key in their success: dealing aggressively with problems.