The Bible places a high premium on unity. Not uniformity but unity. We don’t have to act the same or even believe the same about everything to have unity. To possess unity, we must have love and an understanding of the importance of unity. Unity is important in the body of Christ because it reflects two very important things: LOVE & LORDSHIP.
Love will work toward unity. Jesus gives us specific instructions how to resolve differences in the body of Christ. Let’s look at those instructions in Matthew 18. Many believers in Jesus completely disobey these scriptures. Many choose to lie about their offense to themselves, God, and others. Others simply choose their own way of dealing with hurt and offense. Some choose pride over humility and honesty. Because of the premium God places upon unity, Jesus gave us these very specific instructions about how to handle offense/differences. Failure to follow Jesus’ instructions is always sinful. Failure to obey these instructions regarding the handling of offense and disagreement has the same type of effect upon you as any other type of sin would.
What type of effect does disobedience to these instructions have upon us? It creates a lack of humility. When you don’t obey Jesus’ instructions in one area, it gets easier to disobey in other areas. Humility comes before promotion and honor. A lack of humility could create the opposite effect. Disobedience fosters pride. When you choose your own way over God’s way, you reject humility and choose something else: pride. Disobedience reflects a lack of love and trust in the Lord. Jesus said that if we love Him, it will be evident in our obedience to Him. A lack of obedience is thinking of ourselves first above the Lord. Can you call that love?
Disobedience also reveals selfishness and/or fear. Selfishness is the opposite of agape love and fear is an absence of love and trust. Our lack of humility, obedience, and love affects the us and the body of Christ in a negative way. If we are not going to flow in unity and love, God will eventually remove us from His body so that we don’t stop the flow of the anointing nor create disunity. Where two or three are gathered together in Jesus’ name, the presence of God is there. If two agree concerning prayer, we get answers from heaven. The presence and the prayer cannot be placed in jeopardy because of our disobedience to God.
Let’s discuss how we are told to handle offenses/differences and we’re done. After a problem occurs between us and someone else, we are to go to them privately and seek reconciliation. This is handled privately. If someone is not part of the problem or the solution, they shouldn’t be involved. If that step does not bring reconciliation, then you take two or three other believers who seek reconciliation with you to witness the conversation and to input God’s word. Once again, this is done without the involvement of anyone else at this time. This process is begun upon the discovery of a broken relationship and is done with the love and sanctity of the body of Christ at the forefront. Sometimes, others are not aware they hurt you. But, at any rate, we need to place the health of the body above anything else.
Finally, if efforts to go straight to the other person involved do not produce a reconciliation, then we are instructed to go to the church. This doesn’t mean that you stand up in a service and tell everyone what happened. It means that you go to church leadership and ask for their involvement. Again, this is to be handled behind closed doors unless the matter needs to be brought before the congregation to let them know what has happened. The church is the legal representation of God’s will upon the earth. If one party refuses all attempts at reconciliation, then the church has the right and responsibility to enforce discipline upon the unrepentant individual.
- John 13:35 (NLT)
- Ephesians 4:1-5 (HCSB)
- Matthew 18:15-20 (HSCB)
- Proverbs 15:33 (NIV)
- James 4:10 (NIV)
- Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)
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