Please note the following is an excerpt from the book, “Jesus’ Prayer from A to Z”, of which I’m Editor.
- Q - Quickening the Spirit of Unity, by
Quick, James L.
Speed is the name of the game. We like things fast: fast food, fast cars, fast
money. We live in a culture that hates to wait. We want what we want, and we want
it yesterday. Unfortunately, our impatience with restaurant lines, heavy traffic and
circumstances at work often transfers to impatience with people. Usually the people
who are, or at least should be, closest to us are the ones that it affects the most.
Believe it or not, often times we even bring our impatience into the church, and in
turn, to the many relationships that we have within the Body of Christ.
Have you ever heard, thought, or (perhaps) even said something like this:
“Why don’t those people make their kids mind better?” or “somebody sure did a
poor job of cutting the grass this week,” or “can you believe the services went 10
minutes long this morning,” or “if they don’t stop making it so cold in the auditorium
I’m going to scream,” or “I didn’t get asked to help with that ministry project”. Need
I go on?
It is sad, but so true, that we allow some of the most subjective things within
the church to disrupt what God meant for the church to be. It is not at all funny that
congregations and families have literally been torn apart over the proverbial “color
of the carpet” argument.
In His prayer in John 17:20-21, Jesus, no doubt, had some circumstances in
mind that were very similar to the ones just described. You and I have come to
believe in Jesus through the apostles’ message, as verse 20 states. Jesus knew that in
order for the church to be effective - in order for the Gospel message to be heard
believably - there must be unity among its messengers. That is as true today as it was
in the first century. We could learn a thing or two from the first century church about
unity and the resulting effectiveness.
READ Acts 2:42-47
“42 ¶ And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” (Ac 2:42-47 AV)
It is so exciting to think about the church in Acts! Though it may have been
one of the toughest times for the church, it was also one its most productive. Why?
Because of the unity displayed among the believers in Jerusalem.
Acts 2:44 says that the believers had everything in common. That didn’t
mean they all had the same favorite color. They had the same life mission they were
committed to living out as one body. They met together every day, either at the temple
or in their homes, where they gladly shared meals and praised God. This display of
oneness by the early church confirmed the message of love contained in the Gospel.
The early church was literally the hands, feet and mouth of Jesus. Non-believers
were drawn to this message of love that was brought to life through the unity displayed
by the early church, and their numbers grew daily. In John 13:35, Jesus says they
will know you are his disciples by your love for one another. The absence of unity
portrays the absence of love.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (with a title like that
it has to be a great book), defines “quicken”: to make alive. The church today needs
to make alive the spirit of unity if we hope to be effective in reaching a lost world for
Christ. We must quicken the spirit of unity in today’s church. At times, this may
mean that we are a little uncomfortable when we don’t get our way. It may mean that
we choose to trust in the discernment of the church leadership even if “we’ve never
done it that way before”. A church without unity is like a sled without snow - it will
never fulfill its purpose and it will always have trouble getting anywhere.
If the church is to live in a spirit of unity, we must to realize: some child
rearing needs improvement, grass could always be cut better, services could be shorter
without the special announcements, bring a sweater if you’re cold, and if you feel
you’ve been overlooked for a particular ministry project, begin praying for God to
show you where he wants you to serve. But for the sake of the lost, don’t get stuck on
the color of the carpet! Don’t be so impatient when things don’t end up exactly as
you would have it. We are just a small part of the whole.
We may concern ourselves with food, cars and money being quick, but
what we should really be concerned with is ‘quickening’ the spirit of unity in today’s
church. In order for that to happen, the Spirit of Unity must first be alive in our
Father, forgive us for the times we allow ourselves to get caught up with
worldly concerns and lose our focus on what the church is truly about. Help us to see
clearly your plan and your priorities. Help me to live a life in union with You that will
be an example for others to follow. And may that union displayed in my life convince
others of who you are. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Quick, Jim - Mulberry Grove, IL - Youth Minister/Managing Director,
Bond Christian Service Camp. 1995 graduate of St. Louis Christian College.
Has served local churches as Youth Minister and Associate Minister of
Fellowship and Discipleship. Married to his college sweetheart, Kara Joy,
they have three children.
You must not make of prayer a refuge to dodge
the action of a faith that works by love.
- Adapted TEM
What can I do to encourage unity in my church and community?
What have you done lately to play your part in the Body of Christ?
Pray Jesus’ prayer for:
Quality of life
Pray Jesus’ prayer for:
Believers in Qatar, and other Muslim countries where
secret believers have received the Gospel by radio,
internet or correspondence courses.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Tom (Jn.17:21) M.,
Fellowship of John 17:21
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