A teaching class for the Thames Valley churches of Christ

This is a very Thames Valley specific class series, but the principles will apply elsewhere.
Nothing is broken, but that does not mean we should not strengthen what we have because greater strain is coming in the future. When unity is unattended to, it does become weaker.
These classes will discuss attitudes and actions that can strengthen our unity.
If you have not listened to the sermon from last Sunday I suggest you do so.
Today’s class is focussed on building unity in our local group. Next time we will discuss unity between groups.

  1. Jesus
    Prays for unity
    “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” (John 17:22–23 NIV11)
    Teaches on unity
    ““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”” (John 13:34–35 NIV11)
    Works to promote unity…..

Example 1
“They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”” (Mark 9:33–37 NIV11)

See also vv 14,16
The disciples react to Jesus attempting to help them be honest by going quiet. No one has the conviction or purity of heart to confess on behalf of the group.
Timing and location matter

Example 2
“Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want you to do for us whatever we ask.” “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. They replied, “Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory.” “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said. “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?” “We can,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.” When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”” (Mark 10:35–45 NIV11)

We are one chapter further on and they still need help. Unity is never ‘finished’.

  1. The Early Church
    Example 1
    “In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food. So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” This proposal pleased the whole group. They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism. They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them. So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.” (Acts 6:1–7 NIV11)

Leadership listened
Involved everyone
Understood limitations

Example 2 – (Romans 12:3–8 NIV11)

Discover gifts – often more obvious to others than oneself
Use those gifts for the benefit of the body

All about trust
Built by love
Built by respect
Built be honesty

Any un-dealt with tensions in your group?
What is the next significant decision in your group? How will you approach it to ensure maximum unity?
How can you help each other play their part?

Please add your comments on this week’s topic. We learn best when we learn in community. Do you have a question about teaching the Bible? Is it theological, technical, practical? Send me your questions or suggestions. Here’s the email: [malcolm@malcolmcox.org](mailto:malcolm@malcolmcox.org). If you’d like a copy of my free eBook on spiritual disciplines, “How God grows His people”, sign up at my website: http://[www.malcolmcox.org](http://www.malcolmcox.org/). Please pass the link on, subscribe, leave a review. “Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” (Psalms 100:2 NIV11) God bless, Malcolm