Each local church is a community, or family, of believers. Like any other family, there are differences of opinion, which, if not handled correctly, can lead to division. God wants us to live in a loving, encouraging community that helps us grow in our relationship with God. We are called to help each other and reach the lost.
God calls us to unity and teamwork for His kingdom. John’s gospel says that we should love one another, and when we do – everyone will know we are His disciples. (John 13:34-35). Even the Old Testament records that it is beautiful for the brethren to dwell together in unity. (Psalms 133:1).
So why are we, as the body of Christ, so divided? Several reasons contribute to this: misunderstandings, pride, confusion, and selfishness, to name a few. We want what we want, and we want it now.
Laying aside our wants and desires is difficult. Let’s face it, we all want what we want when we want it. We must die to our fleshly wishes and longings. Luke reminds us that Jesus told us to “take up our cross daily.” (Luke 9:23). A big part of “taking up our cross daily” has to do with laying our ego and pride aside. After we lay aside our self-importance, we must follow Jesus. We must become disciples and disciple-makers.
The second step, considering others before we think about ourselves, is a daily activity. To do this, we must set our egos and desire aside and consider the other person’s needs and wants more critical. The closest way I see this played out is a mother with her child. Mothers will set aside their desire for a new outfit because their child outgrew their shoes. Or they will cancel a lunch date with friends because their child is not feeling well and needs to stay home from school. To a mom, these don’t seem like enormous sacrifices; we love our children and do our best to ensure their needs are met. But God calls us to do this for everyone, not just our children. To consider others more significant than ourselves, we must lay aside our wants and sometimes needs to provide for others in the body of Christ.
We rarely think about others’ needs. If we do, it is after we take care of our wants and desires. This lack of unity creates a chasm that hinders the power of evangelism in the church.
The church is an evangelism team, With the charge of reaching the lost. We try to work together to further God’s kingdom by spreading the gospel. A team can have exceptional talent but cannot win if they don’t work together. To have an effective team, each member should use the gifts that they are best at. In other words, play to each member’s strengths. You can’t win together without unity, but you can lose together. As the body of Christ, we must lay aside our wants and desires, think of our fellow brothers and sisters’ needs, and pull together for the good of the Kingdom of God.