Jesus' reminder that, "What is impossible with man is possible with God," is good reason to fast and pray. There are situations in our lives that are humanly impossible to manage or solve. In fasting and prayer we bring the impossible to the God of the impossible.
One of the things that seems humanly impossible to me, is unity in a church. There is such a growing diversity in generation, culture, personality, class and preference in our church. We support different political parties and sports teams, have different alumni and live in different cities. We meet in three different communities on Sundays. Some of us are single and some are married. Some are wealthy and some are poor. We really have no business being a united family, but that is what we are, by God's grace. It's both delightful and just really hard work.
As difficult as it may be though, we know that unity is possible because Jesus asked the Father for it on our behalf. "I do not ask for my disciples only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you sent me."(Jn 17:20-21)
The unity that Jesus asked for has been given to us by the Spirit, but is maintained by us, through humility, gentleness, and bearing with one another in love.(Eph 4:1-12) Because the church is organic, unity is never achieved forever, just like any garden or body needs constant maintenance in order to remain healthy. When we neglect the maintenance of our unity, the Bible says that 'bitter roots spring up that defile many, giving the devil a foothold and grieving the Holy Spirit, who made us one.' (Eph 4:25-30) Neglecting unity is simply not an option!
With this in mind, we drafted a Southlands Unity Charter in 2010 to help us maintain the unity of the Spirit and attain to the unity of the faith. This has helped us enormously, not only within our leadership team, but also between husbands and wives, life groups, business partners, and even between churches. I want to ask you to re-visit it today as you pray, and see if there is some way that you can give yourself to unity maintenance in the church. Where can we repent, forgive, reconcile or overlook an offense? Where can we protect unity by refusing to gossip or by showing honor?
You may think that this is not very spiritual, but remember Jesus' prayer, that when we are united, the world believes that the Father sent Him. Unity is our witness to a skeptical world that Jesus, the Reconciler, is real! The Scripture promises that when the brethren dwell together in unity, there the Lord commands His anointing and blessing.(Psalm 133) Unity is both intensely relational and incredibly spiritual.
So let's pursue this God-possible gift together and see what God will do!
See you tonight.