There is something incredibly painful about church division. In my pastoral ministry, I have seen conflicts erupt over a clock being moved, dishes being washed, and decorations gone astray. Little things can become massive points of contention.
As long as there have been humans, there have been conflicts. Visionaries and lone rangers have often split and fractured the church. Gifted and strong individuals are sometimes prone to exercise their gifts in divisive ways. But the wise Christian knows and sees that the unity of the church was necessary for the success of gospel mission.
What is so interesting about unity is this: the more you make unity a primary goal, the more elusive it becomes. Unity is a fruit of gospel ministry.
In Paul’s mission, he knew that the success of his mission was dependent upon having Jew and Gentile share one mind on saving faith. So he worked hard to build unity on the basis of the gospel. If the goal is gospel advancement, how do we work together? Galatians 2 gives us some clues.
First, no church succeeds unless they are on the same page (Gal. 2:1). And differences can become barriers to cooperation. But not for Paul. Partnering with Barnabas and Titus, he ensured that their racial diversity as Jew and Gentile did not result in division but in a demonstration of gospel oneness.
Second, a church moves forward when they are compelled by God (Gal. 2:2). No inward neediness in Paul nor outward pressure to please people caused Paul to act. He was motivated by the glory and revelation of God.
Third, mission succeeds when we examine the goals and outcomes (Gal. 2:3). Paul presented his gospel to the other apostles to ensure that he was not doing the mission in vain. Confident in God’s call, Paul knew that he had to have people come together. And what better way to come together than to share our gospel vision with others to ensure that we are pulling in the same direction.
Finally, the mission goes forward when we resist challenges (Gal. 2:5ff). There are some who have strange ideas, others who are motivated by those who seem to be important, and still others who hear every idea and want to run with it. Paul was focused on knowing Christ and making him known.
Whenever we remain focused on God’s work (Gal. 2:7-9), we can allow for diversity of methods, ministries, and members of the body to do God’s work. We don’t have to do everything the same way, but we can each be a part of God’s mission to make Jesus Christ known.
So let’s make Jesus known around us in the ways that uniquely suit each member of the body!
See you Sunday,
As we gather for Sunday worship, we want you to meet with God and be transformed by the Word. Prepare your heart by reading the passage and listening to the songs for Sunday.