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Learn Unity by Being Togetherby Duane Mabee on September 8, 2022
It is important for the church to gather because it is the only way we learn how to be unified with people who are different from us. God is glorified through our unity amid diversity, and the world is looking for better community.
From the beginning of the church, Jesus has always brought together people who would have naturally hated each other and formed them into a unified group. Think of the disciples He chose. It must have been interesting being in a group that included a radical guerilla fighter who was intent on overthrowing Rome alongside a tax collector who worked for and furthered the cause of Rome. As time went on, Jesus would incorporate Pharisees, (ultra-religious separatists) and former harlots, slave owners and slaves. God was glorified because He could make that diverse group into a community that loved each other and lived and worshiped together in unity.
The only way the world knew about their unity, though, was because they consistently got together in ways that displayed the strength of their unity. They “did life together”. They suffered together. They supported each other and worked together toward the same goals. If they had only talked about being unified in Christ but stayed in their homes and only associated with people just like them, the world would not have seen anything special in the church.
Hansen and Leeman write, “The church that gets noticed by the world brings together people who don’t normally associate – the tax collectors and zealots, the sinners and Pharisees. That’s what made the early church so strange that some said it had turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6).” One key reason for regularly coming together as a church body is to develop community with people who are different from us and learn to love them. Christ is glorified through that love.
Hansen and Leeman continue, “The body is a fellowship of differents. We are not alike, and we need each other. We have not been gifted the same way, and that’s how God intended it for our good. We confess the same belief in Jesus Christ, but we enjoy a diversity of experiences. This is God’s vision for the church that we must rediscover.”
Our world longs for community, but the community that it can create is so dissatisfying. We long for meaningful relationships where we know that we are loved but love like that is only understood when people stick together through the hard and messy times. And that is exactly the kind of unity Christ means for the church to display.