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Friday, November 7, 2008

Let's be in unity...really?

Unity, it’s the buzz word of the day. But, what does it mean?
As Christians, are we supposed to be in unity with those around us?
It would seem so from what we are hearing these days.

We have a new president and many of us don’t agree with his policies. But as good little American’s, we are to live in unity so there can be peace. Really?

The definition of unity is: oneness.

As Christians, we are supposed to base all of our beliefs on the Bible, so I decided to see what God’s Word said about unity.

Here’s what Jesus said about unity:
John 17:22-23
I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

He is referring here to being unified together as brothers and sisters in Christ.

And this one:
Rom 15:5
May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus

As they follow Christ Jesus…again the author seems to be referring to being unified as brothers and sisters in Christ.

What about the Old Testament?
Ps 133:1
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

Now back to the New…
Eph 4:3
3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Eph 4:13
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Col 3:12-14
12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

It is quite clear that in God’s Word, the unity we are called to is within the body of Christ. I could not find any verses that tell us to be unified with the world. But I found these:

Rom 13:1-5
13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.
4 For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

Eccl 10:20
20 Curse not the king, no not in thy thought

We are called to submission, and to that submission we add faith. Faith and trust that our God will take care of us if we obey Him.

Unity = oneness.
As Christians, we are one with God and his children, but we are to submit to governing authorities.
We don’t have to agree to submit…that would be called “agreement.”
However, we can not be “one” with the world.

1 John 2:15-16
Do not love the world or anything in the world.
If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

John 15:18-19
"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

When we submit to the governing leaders and “curse not the king” in obedience to the Lord, we are honoring the Lord.

However, I do not believe that means that we sit back and let whatever happens happen. If there is an issue we disagree with, we first pray. Then we get involved where we can. That could mean writing letters to leaders stating our concerns, it could mean taking situations to our courts and fighting in our legal system for justice. I believe we have every right to address concerns and stand up for what is right within the laws of the land.

Of course we are to first obey God’s commands and if we are told to disobey those, we must not.
Here’s a perfect example:
Acts 4:18-20
18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
19 But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God.
20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."

As always, it comes down to the condition of our hearts. There is nothing wrong with exposing and discussing the concerns we have. But if there is hatred in our hearts towards a person (as opposed to hatred towards a sin) than we are not honoring the Lord.
I know many of you are angry, concerned and upset. Let's bring our concerns to the Lord and obey what He commands. Be in unity (oneness) with fellow believers, but submit to the governing authority in this nation and pray for them in love and trust God.


Jen said...

Great post Sue! It really makes me think and pray hard about my attitude and words and actions!! Thank you for those verses!! They are mighty!!

Anonymous said...

Very good post, Sue!

I am beginning to believe that many are becoming more concerned about "modern day persecution". We are seeing in our culture rising up a mentality (especially in our government) that God either does not exist or God is a God up for a man's interpretation thereby leaving Christ's Body in an ever-more narrowing path.

Unfortunately, I am a wimp. I do not want pain of any kind. But, we have examples of the past, Christian heros, really. Think of all our Christian brothers and sisters that died simply because they did not exalt their government rulers. (I am in no way suggesting this is where we are heading.)

It is becoming increasing more difficult to defend God's Word in today's age, because as you stated....we are not of the world...and that is why the world hates us.

Being mocked, persecuted or hurt because of my conviction in Christ is supposed to be an honor...hard to step up to, though.

Consider it all joy, brethren when you face various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be complete, lacking nothing. James 1:2-4

Praise and Coffee said...

Great words Holly.

Hi Jenny!

Mary said...

Sue, thank you for taking the time to search the Word and then post a well written piece on your findings. As a busy mother of two, I enjoy reading your blog and being reminded of what the Bible says. May God bless you and continue to give words that glorify Him.

Margie said...

Thank you for taking the time to post on this topic.

I've taken today off so that I can stay in His presence and can get rid of the disappointment that I feel from this week's election.

I have many black Christian friends and at least half of them voted for Obama. I don't want to be mad at them or the church here that refused to speak FOR life...but I am. I am mad and hurt and disappointed at them more than the fact Obama won.

The good news..the healing has already begun because as I read Col 3:12-14 in your post, I am reminded what to do and He is faithful to help me with it.

So, I will continue to pray for those in authority and endeavor to walk in love and keep the unity of the Spirit in a bond of peace.

Remember, there will be Supreme Court decisions made next year. We must continue to pray because as long as we are here, our light is needed in the darkness.

I think God says, "Thanks Sue, for blogging my Word"...which is alive & powerful and brings life!!!

Lalycairn said...

Thank you. Thank you for your Godly take on a horribly difficult subject. And thank you for making the lines so very clear.

Smelling Coffee said...

So very true! Since the elections, the buzz words everywhere have been trust, peace, and unity. It seems that the Lord is working on the hearts of all of His children in these areas. We'll learn a lot in the next few years if we will obey what the Lord has shown us this week.

Thank you for continuing to share encouragement from God's Word.

Patricia said...

It appears we are thinking alike today. I've thought about my response since midnight Tuesday. I came up with some of the same verses you point out.

I really think it's important that we stay engaged. The battle for the White House may be over...but the war for our culture is in full swing. Unfortunately, the culture touches everything our children experience.

I can only say that my prayers will be specifically directed to justice and righteousness for the new executive branch of our government. I'm praying for Christians to step up into public service.

The world our children will live in is at stake. I refuse to give up just because conservative values are not the priority of the Oval Office this election cycle.

Typing One-Handed

Sandy said...

A great reminder Sue, and exactly what I was reading this morning!

Thanks for the post!

Quiltingranny said...

So, it looks like you have been talking to Billy Graham? Today, he stated that he will no longer be the pastor for the white house as he has been since the days of President Eisenhower. We all know his health is failing, however he stated he and President Obama's views were not the same. He and his son stated they will be praying for the president. We are commanded to pray for our leaders, we are not commanded to follow them like sheep to a slaughter!
Great insight Sue!

Praise and Coffee said...

I'm so thankful for all of you!

Patricia I love that:
The battle for the White House may be over...but the war for our culture is in full swing.

So true!

Heather C said...

Amen... I keep thinking of Daniel 2:20-21... "Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning.”

The Lord has a purpose in everything. We must vote our conscience, but once the powers and authorities have been established, our job is to pray for them.

1 Timothy 2:1-4... “I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth.”

I take great comfort from this verse... Proverbs 21:1, “The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; He directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.”

I'm reminded of words from a Steven Curtis Chapman song: "What I feel is telling me this world's gone crazy, but what is real says God's still on His throne. What I need is to remember one thing: That the Lord of the gentle breeze is Lord of the rough and tumble... and HE is the King of the Jungle!"

mariel said...

Amen, Sue! Great post with much needed truths! Let's be sure we are walking in unity GOD'S WAY! And submitting to those He has placed in authority over us. Thank you for this!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Sue -

I always think about the apostles when confronted by the religious leaders. They made it plain they had to obey God rather than man.

We can be respectful, but still disagree.

Susan :)

Jennsmere said...

Thank you for your posts. There is so much to think about now. You have done a wonderful job of summing up what our response should be...unity with our brethren, submission to authority, but we still must stick to our biblical principles. I believe we must stay strong in the Word and in prayer for the days of ease for the Christian may be coming to an end.

Thanks especially for the scriptures that you have included...they are right on point!

A Stone Gatherer said...

Very well said Sue! I love how writers can put their thoughts to word and have it touch others! That is exactly how I've felt since Tuesday! I have to admit i was sad, but not angry or scared, just sad at how far we have fallen and keep falling as a nation away from God! I agree with all that you said!

Susan Skitt said...

Right on :)

Anonymous said...

Great message for us all today!! The world needs peace and it starts with unity. Thanks for the great word!!

Katy said...

AMEN! I totally agree! Thank you for this post!

I am the Clay said...

Great post, Sue!!

We are to be in unity within the body of Christ.....

Jesus also said He came to bring a sword to divide.....

It is impossible for us to be in unity with those who opose God's word.. but as you said and encouraged us to do, we can certainly pray for our leaders and those in authority. That is biblical!

I am reading Ezra, and just finished up Nehemiah and ... God used govt leaders, kings to fulfill His will.. thru Cyrus, and Darius an Xerxes, the temple at Jerusalem was rebuilt ... God use those "ungodly" men... and He can use Obama as well.

His ways are not our ways....

let's keep trusting in Him,


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