Maintaining the unity in the church is one of the most difficult tasks to do. With so many different personalities, interests, attitudes, levels of conversion, tendencies and on top of that, HUMAN NATURE, the unity within the congregation and the whole body of Christ can be so fragile that even a small mistake can easily break it.
This is the reason that we have seen so many splits within the churches of God. Good friends have become enemies, brothers and sisters have become strangers and loved ones become indifferent.
With this in mind, how can we really preserve the unity in the Church? How can we be an instrument of unity as an individual rather than an instrument of division? In this post, let me share with you seven ways how we can keep and maintain the unity within the church.
1. Don’t base decisions on emotions
I am not particularly an emotional person, but when it comes to church matters, I can easily break down and cry. During heated arguments and strong emotions, it is very easy to say things we really don’t mean. More often than not, we have already destroyed our relationship with each other before we know it.
For this reason, it is always UNWISE to make decisions when you are in an emotional euphoria. It is true that feelings can get hurt and we tend to respond based on how we feel, but we need to control our emotions. The best thing you should do is to delay speaking, compose yourself, and collect your thoughts.
Emotions are very good in clouding our minds and deceiving ourselves. We act so fast without thinking to the point that we regret what we have said or done afterward.
Nobody said that you should respond as soon as possible to any given situation. It is always best to give a few minutes, days, and even weeks before you can think clearly. It will also be very helpful to PRAY and FAST about it to seek God’s will and not your will.
Remember Solomon’s word:
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city (Proverbs 16:32).
The words of Solomon must influence us into making the right decisions based on facts and sound judgment.
2. Don’t make decisions based on UNPROVEN facts
Because of our personal prejudice and biases, we can easily jump into conclusion without really listening to the two sides of the argument.
Proverbs has this to say about making a hasty decision:
He who answers a matter before he hears it,
It is folly and shame to him…
The first one to plead his cause seems right,
Until his neighbor comes and examines him (Proverbs 18:13, 17).
One of the worst things you will do is to take sides when you don’t even have all the facts.
If you ever hear one side of the story and immediately made your decision, then it would be shameful for you at the end.
Therefore, it is wise not to make dogmatic statements when you really don’t know the whole story.
3. Don’t spread gossips
Gossips are among the most DESTRUCTIVE tools that Satan use to destroy the church. People’s reputation can be forever destroyed by a simple gossip that has been spread throughout the congregation.
Lies spread faster than the truth.
First and foremost, we need to recognize that lies spread FASTER than the truth. As a Christian, it is our duty not to be the source of gossips. It is also equally our duty that we should not participate in gossiping by just listening.
We need to remember that we really don’t know the whole story. In most cases, gossips are baseless accusations and half-truths. Gossips have been passed around so many times that the truth, if ever there’s truth in it, has been diluted.
If you have heard a gossip, it is your responsibility to STOP it from there! Don’t spread it anymore. If you don’t have all the facts and all you have are hearsays, you will become an agent of Satan in destroying the church when you spread it around.
Think about it for a second. Do you want to be the man whom Satan used to destroy his church? Certainly not!
Let us all remember what Jesus said in Matthew 12:36-37:
“But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the Day of Judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
4. Love God’s law
Being offended is one of the most common reasons people leave the church. It is also the reason for disunity in the church. But do you know the best way to overcome being easily offended?
The answer is found in Psalms 119:165.
“Great peace have they which love thy law: and NOTHING shall offend them.”
When you truly and COMPLETELY love God’s law, nothing will offend you. When you love God’s law, you will have peace and calmness of mind. When you have the peace of mind emanating from loving God’s law, nothing will cause you to stumble. Nothing will offend you. Nothing will make you sin.
Every time a church member hurts or offended you, when you love God’s commandment, this should NOT matter to you anymore. Since you love the commandments and laws of God, this should be a reason enough for you not to get bothered anymore. Because you love God’s laws, nothing should be able to make you stumble.
Jesus Christ, Himself, had said that we should expect offenses to come (Matthew 18:7). It is a normal part of life. So there’s really NO POINT in getting upset when people have offended us. We can NEVER control other people’s action. What we can control is how we respond.
Though we must not get too hung up with offenses, Jesus warned, “WOE to that man by whom the offense comes” (Matthew 18:7)! So better be careful in causing offense or being the reason people sin and cause the disunity within the Church.
5. Use Matthew 18 Principle
Personally, Matthew 18 is one of the most difficult principles to apply. Matthew 18:15-17 is the teaching of Jesus Christ about dealing with a sinning brother or a person who have hurt or offended us. It lays out the step-by-step procedure on how to solve problems and disunity within the church.
Matthew 18:15-17 tells us:
“Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector.”
In this passage, if someone sins against you, you must not go to your friends and gossip about your problem! But instead, Jesus said that you should go and tell him his fault between you and him alone, not between you and other people. That should be the first step and in most cases, the problem is resolved at this level.
If that sinning brother will not hear you, then that is the time when you include one or two people and eventually, the whole church as necessary.
Failure to use Matthew 18 principle has led to many divisions within the Church. Small problems would easily become big because of the refusal of involved parties to use Matthew 18 principle. Imagine if all church members would apply this, we could have seen so many problems easily solved a long time before it gets big.
6. Look to God rather than people
Remember that it is called the Church of God and not the church of people. Sometimes, it is very easy for us to forget that Jesus is the head of the Church. It is His body and we can have the confidence that He has the ULTIMATE control.
God the Father and Jesus Christ are always in charge. We can be sure about that and no matter what happens, the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).
One of the reasons people leave the church is because they look to people and not to God. They followed a human leader, rather than the spiritual Leader, who is Christ.
Our allegiance should be to God and not to man. We are in the Church because God has called us from this world (John 6:44). We are not in the church because of our pastors or our church leaders. They are only instruments in the hands of God to draw us closer to Him.
7. Endeavor to keep the unity of the Church
Every Christian has the duty to keep the unity of the Church. Being united is not optional, but rather it is mandatory. History tells us that human beings have accomplished more things when they are united rather than divided. We can accomplish more things when we cooperate rather than compete.
Being united is not optional, but rather it is mandatory.
The Bible teaches that we need to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).
Jesus prayed to God the Father:
“I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You” (John 17:20-21).
Did you just understand what Jesus Christ had prayed? He prayed that we should be one just as they are one! This means that we must also exhibit that level of unity God the Father and Jesus Christ had. There is no doubt that this is a very difficult mandate, but it is still prayed by Jesus Christ.
Yes, we might be undergoing some tough times that may lead to the disunity of the Church. However, we must not allow Satan to overpower us, but rather we must stand as one and be united under the rulership of Jesus Christ.
We must recognize that Satan is out there to destroy the Church and he will use everything within his disposal to accomplish his goal.
I pray hard that we will all be united and we will not allow ourselves to be used by Satan. If there’s one thing a Christian don’t want to happen is that we have made Satan happy because of our actions.
Let us all pray for the unity within our congregation and the Church as a whole. Let us ask for God’s intervention, mercy, justice, and love to help us see clearer; to help us make better choices, and to help us become wiser.
With God’s help, we will overcome Satan’s devices and we will stand unified and be called the united Church of God.