Have you ever wondered how the Disciples could possibly have operated as a cohesive unit? Talk about contradictory group dynamics! Just look at the two Disciples who eventually wrote Gospels. Matthew started out as a hated tax collector, yet with single-minded intent portrayed Jesus as Messiah; John, “Son of Thunder,” was apparently a hot-tempered youth, yet became a contemplative mystic. Then there are the two Simons: Simon the Zealot wanted to overthrow the government, and Simon Peter was over-zealous in self-confidence. The only thing that seems to connect these men is their love for the Master.
This week, let’s explore what unity is like.
Day 1: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition…but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” Phil. 2:3
If we ever fall short of accord with each other, could it be because we are short on humility? In particular, do we not sometimes take pride in our convictions, waving them like a banner, and assume our Lord is proud of us for it? Today, choose an apple, core it, and carefully slice it into several equal pieces. At the core of our faith is absolute Truth, definitely; yet every single believer, even if her views differ from yours, is a precious, equal slice of the whole. This is what unity of the Spirit looks like.
Day 2: “Make every effort….” Eph. 4:3a
For a season, our group of ladies assumed we knew all about unity, as we cried and laughed together, prayed and thought we could conquer the world together. But our congregation went through a transition, and soon we were scattered among several churches. It was devastating. But God (don’t you love a sentence that starts but God?) scoops us back together from time to time; now our laughter and prayers, and even our tears have a sweeter, purer ring. This is what unity of the Spirit sounds like. Have you experienced separation from a Christian sister? Regardless who or what is “at fault,” make the effort today to restore your unity.
Day 3: “…to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” Eph. 4:3b
One of my Christian sisters is now active in a church whose pastor publicly slung mud at my church, and I took it pretty personally. That same week, my friend requested prayer for a ladies’ class she was beginning in her church. What do you think I did? I gave myself a good shake, and I prayed with fervor! Today, check your rear-view mirror. Is there some conflict in your wake that has prevented your fervent prayers? Give yourself a good shake and get over it! This is how unity of the Spirit prays!
Day 4: “…The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Gal. 5:6
Is all my talk of separation and conflict making you feel tense? Take a deep breath; inhale the sweetness of the Spirit. There’s work to be done, and we’re commanded to do it in love. Today, get some more apples and bake a pie (or buy a pre-baked one). Deliver the pie to someone in need of encouragement, and add some words that you know will lift them up. Add a good hug while you’re at it. This is how unity of the Spirit moves.
Day 5: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Rom. 12:18
As best you can, says Paul, live at peace, not war. How often have you heard the expression, “Pick your battles?” And how often has that adage applied to battles of words? Today, pick your battle. Arm yourself, not with weapons, but with a medic’s kit. You know someone who is embattled, fighting for the Kingdom, maybe losing heart. Bring that person the ointment of healing words, and find a way to pour over them the oil of joy. This is how unity of the Spirit fights.