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Steps Toward Unity
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God desires unity in his family, but most of us in the church have only experienced it intermittently. Many local churches struggle with conflict and division and, upon realizing this, decide to pursue unity. But unity does not come about from a decision or a strategy – unity is born from reconciliation. And reconciliation is born from humility.
What is humility? Simply put, it is recognizing and accepting the truth about myself.
As I become aware of them, as scary as it can be, I must face the flaws I carry and mistakes I’ve made and give up my pride, my self-justification, before God. (James 4:10) Trusting his promise in Jesus is the only way I can risk the exposure and the only real hope I have of being lifted up. This is the dawn of coming alive to reality, letting illusion die, and being satisfied with unembellished truth. True humility gradually pulls down my facade and makes me available to God and my brothers and sisters.
Reconciliation starts with me humbly acknowledging to other people the hurts I have caused them. Yes, I have to go first. No exaggeration, no sweetener, no equivocation; just honestly letting them know, without holding back, that I understand what I’ve done. It isn’t easy for them, either. They may get angry, but that’s where my trust in God comes in. After all, it’s the Holy Spirit himself poking my heart from inside, refusing to let me keep hiding, and his arm is around my shoulder holding me up when I face the truth of me.
Reconciliation isn’t just about hurts I’ve caused; pain between people is rarely one-way. Here is where so many of us lose our way. I have a really hard time entrusting justice to God when I’ve been wronged! I want a chance to get angry, to make sure you know what you’ve done to me. I seek to be in charge of justice, or at least be a participant, but that’s merely a convenient way for my self-justification to sneak back in. I find myself working harder toward feeling better about my foolishness (or just denying my culpability altogether) than toward healing – more proof I need God to lead me if I’m ever to move from my slough to his stream.
As much as the Father is mine, he isn’t only mine. I only see a fraction of how he is moving in the hearts of others. While I am speaking the truth to a brother or sister, God is also working within their heart according to his wisdom. The Lord passionately longs for all of his adopted family to be fully reconciled to him and each other: in a word, unity. Can you imagine the uninhibited energy and power of the Holy Spirit moving through and wielding all of us in concert like that? The glory to God would be breathtaking! So how do I, how do we, get there? Like so much of life as a follower of Jesus, it’s simple, but not easy. The first step is humility. (Eph. 4:11-32)
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...in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them... 2 Cor 5:19
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