This Preaching in Shorts sermon series is called “The Church”.
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Over the last few weeks in our discussion on the church we have said that the church is ultimately about relationships. Relationship with God, relationship with the people of God, and relationship with those who do not yet know Jesus. These relationships are developed in the context of worship, discipleship, fellowship, and mission. We have discussed worship and discipleship, today we are going to continue our discussion about fellowship.
Christian fellowship is believers in Christ coming together in unity, love and humility to mutually support and encourage one another.
We are united to one another by common beliefs, values and purposes. We are filled by the same Holy Spirit who indwells each of us and leads and guides us.
We can learn a lot about fellowship or koinonia as we study the one another Bible verses.
Of those verses, one third are about unity in the church, another third are about how we are to love one another, and approximately fifteen percent are about the importance of humility.
Today we are going to talk about unity in the church.
Perhaps our biggest obstacle to unity is our selfishness.
James 4:1-3 (NIV)
1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
To walk in unity we need the Holy Spirit to help us become less self focused and more others focused. The One Another verses help lay the groundwork.
1. Be kind and compassionate
Ephesians 4:32a (NIV)
32 Be kind and compassionate to one another,
Romans 15:7 (NIV)
7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Sometimes instead of being kind and compassionate we might have a tendency promoted by our culture to be rude.
Are you aware of your own rudeness? Do you catch yourself being rude? Do you ever say “I don’t mean to be rude but ……” as though somehow this is an excuse for being rude. If someone says I don’t mean to be rude but… you need to kindly go (cover ears and go lalalalalalal). You are helping them. When you feel the need or the urge to be rude, you need to quit looking to blame it on someone else and ask God to do a quick check on what your problem is. Sometimes there is a tendency to be rude to people who we perceive as somehow being less than we are.
Do you remember the WWJD phase? It had quite a bit of impact for a season. It is still a good question to ask in life situations. He is our model for life and ministry. In a culture consumed with selfish ambition and vain conceit, we should be thinking about what Jesus would do all the time.
2. Be forgiving
Colossians 3:13 (NIV)
13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
Because God has forgiven me, I need to forgive others. We live in a fallen world and we are going to hurt people and people are going to hurt us. Our selfishness and other people’s selfishness will cause us all a lot of pain. We need to be able to forgive those who have hurt us, and that can only really happen after we realize how great the forgiveness we have received really is. Now we must let it flow through us and extend it to others.
Why is it sometimes so difficult to forgive people who have hurt us?
Let me explain what forgiveness is not. Forgiveness does not mean the instant restoration of trust. Forgiveness is instant. Trust must be rebuilt over time. Forgiveness is based on grace. Trust is built on works. Some people withhold forgiveness because they think that to forgive someone means that everything just goes back the way it was. That is not forgiveness. Forgiving a person does not mean you have to trust them. That means they have to earn the trust. Forgiveness means I am going to quit holding on to it and I am going to put it in God’s hands.
If I don’t rest in God’s grace and give the people who have hurt me to God, I will become bitter and my life will have a negative impact on the lives of people around me.
3. Be encouraging
Romans 15:5 (NIV)
5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus,
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)
11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (NIV)
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
In the New Testament, the word that we translate encourage from is the word “parakaleo”. So, “para” means beside or near or alongside and “kaleo” means to call or summon. A “paraclete” or encourager is someone who comes alongside and brings comfort, hope and courage. Paraclete is the word used to describe the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
To walk together in unity we all need to practice being kind, forgiving and encouraging with one another.
More “Getting Along” One Another’s
John 6:43 (NIV)
43 “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered.
Mark 9:50 (NIV)
50 “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”
Galatians 5:15 (NIV)
15 If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
Galatians 5:26 (NIV)
26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.