The Priority of Unity
A treasure to guard when the race is difficult
Though I didn’t particularly enjoy it, for 2 of my 3 high school years (back then HS was 10th-12th) I ran for the Kenosha Bradford High Cross Country team.
I did it because the CC coach was also the varsity basketball coach. You get the idea.
A Cross Country team wins when the total score of the places its runners finish is lower than competing teams’ total scores. [For example, if a team’s runners placed 3rd, 10th, 15th, 22nd and 24th, the team’s “total score” would be 74.] Simply put, if the 5 CC runners place both “high” and “together,” your team has a better chance of winning the meet.
So running together is important.
This meant that in some of our practices, our coach would tie a long rope around all the waists of the 5 runners, with some slack in between each one. Practice was an effort in learning to run together. Which meant the faster runners needed to help the slower runners, and the slower runners needed to step it up to encourage the faster runners.
But even more, it meant they needed to run together and finish together. No matter how long the race was or how hard and hilly the course, there was to be a priority on unity.
OUR UNITY ON THIS HARD AND HILLY COURSE
These late spring and summer days have been most unusual and difficult. One of our leaders recently said, “What better script could Satan write — to capitalize on COVID to disperse and promote separation within the body of the Lord Jesus — than the one we are experiencing?”
Paul urged the splintering Corinthian church to guard its unity, appealing that “no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes” (2 Cor 2:11, NASB).
Even more forcefully, he spoke to believers in Ephesus: “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, be diligent (or ‘make every effort’) to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (4:2-3).
Translation? Stay tied together. Run together. Sure, life can be hard. Chugging up a hill, running on uneven turf, it’s easy to be frustrated with the others to whom I am tied. One frustration nurtured gives birth to others. Suddenly, rather than running together, we are pulling against each other.
But the writer to the Hebrew Christians adds where our eyes must focus. “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2).
WILL YOU HELP PRESERVE OUR UNITY?
One of the greatest treasures of Christ Community Church has been the unity the Spirit of God has created in our fellowship. Together – as we will hear again this Sunday – our eyes need to be fixed vertically and forwardly, on Christ Jesus our forerunner and finisher.
So how might you help strengthen our church team’s unity during these difficult days? Here are some simple suggestions.
- Pray for the Spirit of God to guard and strengthen our unity, that we would have God’s wisdom to make this a priority.
- Petition the Lord for an end to both the COVID pandemic and the angry rancor within our nation. Pray for those in authority over us. Pray that we be good citizens, and so commend the gospel to those around us.
- Make sure the members of your Connect Group are “attached to your rope.” Call them, encourage them, pray together over the phone, and safely meet together when you are able.
- Worship faithfully each Sunday, either in person here at the campus or on line. And continue to use the weekly Connect Group studies which follow the coaching we are getting from Paul’s insightful letters to the churches.
- Take a look at the Christ Community Church website (www.ccames.org). Use it as a prayer stimulus guide. Pray for our pastors and staff leaders, along with our Missional Leadership Board, for our upcoming August Membership Meeting. Take a look at the serving opportunities and ask the Spirit if you could make a difference for the Kingdom in some way.
- Pray and think about those in your life who do not yet know about God’s love in Christ or believe in the gospel. Can you begin asking the Spirit of God to use you to love them, and when it is timely, to offer the hope and joy of Christ, to see them become a part of the Body of Christ?
Yes…we feel a bit disconnected, unsure about too many things. But this we know. We can invest in our unity. We are “the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:20-22).