All About GOD

All About GOD - Growing Relationships with Jesus and Others

Pastor Bob Bushman
Text: Ephesians 4:1-6
I, a prisoner in the Lord, encourage you to live the kind of life which proves that God has called you. 
Be humble and gentle in every way. 
Be patient with each other and lovingly accept each other. 
Through the peace that ties you together, do your best to maintain the unity that the Spirit gives. 
There is one body and one Spirit. In the same way you were called to share one hope. 
There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over everything, through everything, and in everything.

In our world, especially here in America where everyone seems to be so individualistic, how can we maintain unity? 
Many of you are familiar with the book by Alexander Dumas entitled “The Three Musketeers”. 
The heroes of that story had as their motto “All for one and one for all”. 
This meant that each member of that group of men would fight for the group or for any of the others that were in thier group. 
In other words, they were vowing to stand together in their common fight. 
“All For One and One for All.” 
As I thought about this passage of Scripture, I realize that this is what the Apostle Paul is trying to get the Ephesians church to adopt as their motto. 
I will take it a step farther than that; I believe that God wants The East Middlebury United Methodist Church to adopt as its motto also, “All for one and one for all!”
This unity of which Paul wrote about is not something which the Christian needs to conjure up or create, but in Christ it already exists and must be diligently preserved. 
Verse 3 says; “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.”
These verses tell us that unity is not just a possibility; it is a divine requirement if we are to be everything God wants us to be as a church. 
Benjamin Franklin
As an American inventor and diplomat Benjamin Franklin played a key role in the struggle for independence. 
He is the only person to sign all four documents on which the United States was founded: the Declaration of Independence, the alliance treaty with France, the peace treaty with England, and the Constitution.
As he and other leaders prepared to sign the Declaration of Independence in 1776, Franklin joked, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we will all hang separately.”

His humor had a serious message--without unity, they could not hope to defeat the military might of England. 
Paul had a similar message in today’s reading. 
Unity can and must characterize the church if we are to be effective spiritually.
Here are a few ways we can actively build unity.
1 - Spend more time considering the evidences of grace in others than you do pondering their sins and weaknesses. It is much easier to see and focus on the weaknesses of others than to see and focus on their strength. It is as if we use a magnifying glass when looking for weakness and a telescope when looking for grace. “Sin is darkness, grace is light; sin is hell, grace is heaven; and what madness is it to look more at darkness than at light.
2 - Consider that spiritual safety comes through spiritual unity. Christians united together are difficult to separate, difficult to break, difficult to pick off and destroy. It is when you isolate yourself by disrupting or denying unity that you are most at risk. 
3 - Meditate on God’s many commands demanding that we love one another. When you feel your heart begin to turn against another Christian, this is the time to turn to the many commands to love one another.
Allow God’s Word to convict you of love’s necessity.
4 - Spend more time considering areas of agreement than disagreement. The doctrines that you share with other true believers are the foundational doctrines; Styles and preferences are usually the contentious elements that separate individuals.
5 - Consider your peaceful God. God is the God of peace, Christ is Prince of peace and the Spirit is the Spirit of peace. Having made peace with God, having bowed before Christ, having been indwelled by the Spirit whose fruit is love, joy, peace…, you now have the ability, and ought to have the desire, to be at true, deep and lasting peace with other Christians.

6 - Renew in your mind and heart to what it means to be at peace with God. Preach the gospel to yourself, because as you consider who you are in light of God’s perfect goodness, holiness and peace, your heart will soften toward others.
7- Meditate on the unique relationship between Christians. Psalm 133:1 proclaims the goodness and pleasantness of dwelling together in unity; there are some things in the world that are good but not pleasant and others that are pleasant but not good. 
But to live in peace is both pleasant and good. Consider what it means to be bound together in God’s family with fellow travelers who are on that same pilgrimage to that very same destination as yourself.
8 - Count the cost of disunity. When relationships break down, disagreement inevitably follows, and every disagreement between Christians is a triumph of Satan. If you descend into disunity, you hand Satan a victory. Maintain peace and deny him the triumph!
9 - Be the first to seek peace and reconciliation. You are a Christian today only because God was the first to seek peace with you. 
You are now called and equipped to be the first to seek after peace and to attempt to pursue and maintain unity. 
As you do this you have the high honor of acting as an imitator of God.

10 - Walk and work together with other Christians as far as possible, making the Word the only judge of your actions. It is God’s loss and your loss, and it is Satan’s gain, when you will not walk in love with other Christians, when you will not work arm-in-arm together, with those with whom you have so much in common. 
There is so much more of the Lord’s work we accomplish together than apart.
11- Judge yourself more than you judge others. 
If you were to spend more time considering your own faults, and less time considering the faults of others, you would never be so quick to judge and to separate yourself from other believers. 
12 - Pursue humility. Humility generates peace among Christians. 
Humility will prepare you to serve instead of being served, to overlook an offense, to pursue every kind of unity, to see others succeed where you fail, and to respond with joy and grace to every other possible source of disunity.
So when seeking unity:
We need to look at our own hearts and our own minds and compare them to Jesus and the Scripture. 
We need to recognize that we have differences of opinions and worship styles and that that is okay. 
We need to lift each other up and be united in Christ so we can accomplish that work that we as the body of Christ are call to accomplish.
Dear Father, 
You have called us to be humble and gentle. 
You have called us to be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 
Help us to make every effort to keep ourselves united in the Holy Spirit, binding ourselves together with peace.
For there is one body of Christ and one Spirit that indwells us, and we have all been called to one glorious hope for the future. 
As we have been unified with you Holy Father, so we seek to be unified with each other here in this church. 
Bind us together in Christian love so that we can accomplish your purpose in this fellowship. In the name of Jesus we pray, amen

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