The Power of Unity
During our last midweek we were challenged to focus on becoming more consistent in our prayer, bible study, or fellowship. How have you responded to this challenge?
Have you ever been a part of a team; such as a sports team, leadership team, or creative team? How did your relationships with one another outside of work or "off the field" affect your performance as a team?
In the animal kingdom several species flock together for safety from predators. The prophets, apostles, and Jesus himself drew on this truth when illustrating the importance for God's people to remain united. While flocks of sheep, and other gregarious animals, naturally herd together, shepherds are responsible for keeping their flocks together. The verses below demonstrates the active role Jesus, our Good Shepherd, takes in keeping the flock united.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
Ezekiel 34:11-16; 34:20-24
‘For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.
Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says to them: See, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you shove with flank and shoulder, butting all the weak sheep with your horns until you have driven them away, I will save my flock, and they will no longer be plundered. I will judge between one sheep and another. I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the Lord have spoken.'
How does Jesus unite us, and how does he hold that unity together?
How should we respond to God's shepherding us through Jesus?
[Jesus' famous proclamation "I am the good shepherd" in John 10 references the messianic prophecy in Ezekiel 34; read and compare the two chapters when you have time.]
Blaine emphasized the difference between merely being united and being fully unified, acting in one accord. Similarly, the Apostle Paul compared the church to a human body, having a common interest and shared concern among its members.
1 Corinthians 12:12-26
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
What is one of your distinct functions within the body of Christ? How does it contribute to the body as a whole?
What functions of the body of Christ, other than preaching, do you depend on?
Bringing it Home
Has anything been holding you back from being more united to the body of Christ in prayer, fellowship, intimacy or cooperation? If nothing is holding you back now, what has been an obstacle in the past? Sharing your experience may help others who are facing similar challenges.