We’ve been reflecting in the last two devotionals on what is our part in leading our communities (marriages, families, churches and workplaces) towards growth in unity. Even if we don’t hold any official leadership positions, nevertheless, in Christ, we possess spiritual influence to move these corporate entities towards spiritually healthy outcomes. No matter how ‘in the background’ you may feel, none of God’s children are inadequate, ineffective or unproductive.
In our previous devotional we thought about how unity grows when each of us emphasises our own responsibility to love and serve others, above our rights in relationships. Each of us is responsible before the Lord for our own character growth. We are not held responsible for others’ characters, even those we are leading (Romans 14:4). But on the other hand, Kingdom communities remain responsible to others, that we may all reach the goal together, of maturity in Christ (Eph 4:15-16).
Inevitably, when we live in close communion with another person who, like me, is prone to sin, we will eventually feel the pain that sin inflicts on us personally. What would working for unity look like in this scenario?
Firstly, it is such a relief to remind ourselves that it is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility to convince someone of sin, not mine (John 16:8). Otherwise, I am likely to take on His role for Him! All that does is redirect their conflict with sin away from God (where it should be) onto you, making conflict spread even wider!
But this does not mean we overlook sin in other’s lives. We may not be able to convince, but we are still directed to speak the truth in love and warn that sin ultimately hurts not only them personally, but also damages the whole community (1 Corinthians 5:6). We don’t fight with them, but we do fight for them that they may escape the deceptiveness and destructiveness of sin (2 Timothy 2:24-26)! This is robust love in action.
Secondly, will we love others enough to step into their mess with them, as Christ did for us? The objective is not to condemn, label or shame but to win them back, firstly into restored communion with God, which then translates into closer unity with brothers and sisters (Matthew 18:15-17). This takes great humility, commitment for the long haul and watchfulness over our own souls to engage with Christ in His redemptive mission from sin (Galatians 6:1a). Would I even be willing, for the sake of the health and unity of my community, to admit my own sins and struggles and ask someone to help walk me out of my mess, that Christ may be glorified? Unity always has its roots in humility.
Finally, it’s important to remember what Paul told the Roman believers; “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). Remember the outcome of unity is not guaranteed because it does not depend on you alone. Conflict is a normal part of life. It’s nothing to be feared. You won’t always have happy, harmonious relationships with others but we can commit to maintain the unity of the spirit as we work through our relational dilemmas.
Dear Loving Saviour, Your humility astounds me! You give me an undeserved place as a full member of Your Body. I am now One Spirit with You Lord (1 Corinthians 6:17). There is no unity closer than this! You have made me a relational being in Your likeness, to enjoy deep union with Yourself and others. From this foundation, Lord teach me how to love others so I maintain this unity in Your Body. Amen.