Unity is always a vital topic, but even more so now than usual.
The church continues to spread, expand and develop. This is all good but it means we must pay more careful attention to our unity.
These lessons will discuss attitudes and actions that can strengthen our unity.
Today’s lesson is focussed on examining one example of how Jesus built unity, and one example of how the early church built unity.
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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)
- Jesus in the Father is the model for us
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)
How did Jesus maintain unity?
“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)
- 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.
- How did Jesus maintain unity?
- Observant – was not looking at his phone while with his disciples!
- Waited for the right time and place
- Asked a question
- Allowed silence
- Taught with compassion
Reminded them it was about him
More work needed – Mark 10:35–45
We are one chapter further on and they still need help.
Unity is never ‘finished’.
Important we do not get tired of working to maintain unity.
- Any tensions?
- Any ungodly attitudes or behaviour?
- Unity is not maintained by harshness, nor by silence
- Unity is maintained by listening, loving and talking
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- The Early Church
“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
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All about Jesus
(Ephesians 2:11–22 NIV11)
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: [email@example.com](mailto:firstname.lastname@example.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