All For One

You ever stop to think what Jesus prays for? Ever contemplate what our Saviors goes to God about when making supplications? What would the Lord of all, the Savior of all mankind, the son of God, the head of the church, the sovereign judge of every living being ask of God? We can actually find out by looking into His prayers right before His death. Often referred to as the High Priestly Prayer, Jesus goes to God hours before He is betrayed in the Mount of Olives. He prays for a couple of things for His followers, but I want to focus on one specific request. In John’s account it is one of the last things Jesus prayed to God about :
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me." (John 17:20–23)
To summarize, Jesus prayed for unity. And not overall unity in the world. No, He specifically prayed for unity in the church itself. I don't know what is more interesting; that of all the things He could have prayed for, this was one of them. Or that He knew this would be such an issue for the church that He needed to pray for it! This is something we must be aware of in our life, within our own church. We can be so focused on the shortcomings of others, that we are dividing more than uniting. Paul warned about this to the church in Galatia when he said: “But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” (Galatians 5:15).
We must play our part in doing all that we can to be uniting in the church. Are we impatient with people? Do we hold on to things they have said or done? Do we avoid certain people and not talk to them? Do we play favorites or show partiality? Are we bitter, sarcastic, isolating, ignoring or gossiping about members of the Body of Christ? Do we get snippy or cutting in our communication? Do we look down on people for their actions? Do we get upset with a member and their mistakes? Do we make mental notes of their dress, conversation, jokes, lack of service, actions or lack of attendance? Do you let out a sigh or groan when someone is there? Have you been grateful when members have left for other churches?  Friends, we must do all we can to keep the body unified! As JC Ryle said, “How often christians have wasted their strength in contending against their brethren instead of contending against sin and the devil!”
How do we do this? How do we go about playing our part in keeping unity in the church? The Bible gives us two ways. The one is by doing all that you can to keep peace between you and others. Paul taught us, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” (Romans 12:18) Now this is as long as it depends on you. Do what you can to mend fences, extend olive branches and forgive sins committed against you. You can’t force people to play nice, but do not assume it is always someone else causing the rift. As long as it is within your power, make the peace, forgive, be patient, give a second chance, don’t assume the worst, talk to someone you would normally avoid.
The next thing you can do is actually love the people in the church! If you are bitter, gossiping, resentful, playing favorites, wishing someone wasn’t there, you are not showing love for your neighbor. Remember it is love that covers a multitude of sins, not leaving for another church. (1 Peter 4:8) Truly love  a person by not hanging onto their sins and shortcomings. Show love by forgetting and actually letting go. I have seen too many christians say they have forgiven someone, but their actions, words, thoughts and emotions show they haven’t really forgiven and moved on (see 1 John 3:18). If God is able to forgive and forget someone's sin, do we have any right to keep holding a grudge? We must truly love our brothers and sisters in Christ. If we are busy praying for them, caring for them, encouraging them and propping them up, then we won't have the space to tear them down.
The reason this is so important is because what greater witness is there than the unity of the church? As Jesus prayed: “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (V.23) Humanity has always tried to unify itself through various ways, but it is only through the church that true unity can be found. Yet how many of us have heard of people not joining because of how vicious the church can be? JC Ryle again says, “How repeatedly they have given occasion to the world to say, ‘When you have settled your own internal differences we will believe!’ All this we need not doubt the Lord Jesus foresaw with prophetic eye.”
Also, keep in mind that when we are divided as a church, we are helping our enemy!
This is one of the ways the devil can defeat us and win a battle. Simply by divide and conquer  he  can move in to eliminate a church. We have enough spiritual battles and troubles with the enemy as it is, should we really give him any help by destroying each other? Saints, let us do all we can to be a unified front to our enemy. Let us not bite and devour one another. Let us do all that we can, as long as it is within our power, to keep the peace. Let us love over all the sinning we experience. “Let no man think lightly, as  some men seem to do, of schism, or count it a small thing to multiply sects [and] parties…these very things, we may depend on only help the devil and damage the cause of Christ.” JC Ryle

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